The Congress on Saturday released the first list of 40 candidates for the Assembly elections in Assam amid a purported rift within the party over seat-sharing, reported the Hindustan Times. The Congress, however, has refuted claims that there is any trouble within the party.
Elections to the 126 Assembly seats in the state will take place in three phases. The first phase of polling will be held on March 27 for 47 seats, second on April 1 for 39 constituencies and the third on April 6 for 40 seats. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.
State unit chief Ripun Bora will contest from Gohpur seat. The party has fielded Leader of Opposition Debabtata Saikia from Nazira and former minister Rakibul Hussain from Samuguri.
Golaghat Bitupan Saikia, who left the Bharatiya Janata Party and joined the Congress, will fight from Golaghat. Former Congress minister Ajanta Neog, who joined the BJP, will contest the same seat, according to NDTV.
Earlier in the day, unidentified party officials said that Congress’ women wing chief, Sushmita Dev, walked out of a meeting on the selection of candidates.
Dev’s supporters had demonstrated against the Congress leaders who favoured allotting more seats to All India United Democratic Front in the Barak Valley, reported PTI. The Congress’ women wing chief was reportedly against the party’s decision to give the Sonai Assembly seat in the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley to the All India United Democratic Front, according to The Hindu. The former MP had also resented the party’s decision not to field two candidates of her choice – Papon Deb and Hirak Das – in Barkhola and Dhalai seats.
Dev had on Friday expressed her resentment against the party. “I feel hurt because I have not been consulted in the process of selecting candidates and was not even invited to related meetings,” she said. There were reports that she had quit the party.
However, the Congress and Dev herself later dismissed the reports of her quitting. “I love the party and madam [Sonia Gandhi],” she said.
The Congress also issued a statement on similar lines. “It has been brought to the notice of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee that a speculative news about resignation of President, All India Mahila Congress Ms Sushmita Dev is doing the rounds on television and web portals,” party spokesperson Bobbeeta Sharma said in the statement. “We want to make it clear that Ms Sushmita Dev has not resigned from the party.”
Congress Lok Sabha MP Pradyut Bordoloi also said that news about Dev quitting was false. “Congress is a big and vibrant party and there is bound to be some expectations and differences,” he said. “I have talked with Dev and the reports of her resigning are false. She might be having some issues, but she is a respected leader of the party and very much with us.”
The Congress-led grand alliance has All India United Democratic Front, Bodoland People’s Front, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) and the Anchalik Gana Morcha as its allies.
The BJP, which released its first list of 70 candidates on Friday, took a dig at the Congress over the purported trouble within the Sonia Gandhi-led party. “The Congress-led alliance is an unholy one which is forced and there’s bound to be differences,” BJP spokesperson Rupam Goswami said. “It’s a party full of leaders and less cadres hence it’s no surprise they are squabbling. It is definitely going to benefit us.”