Himanta Biswa Sarma Reinforces His ‘Chanakya’ Image By Mobilising Support Of Opposition MLAs For Droupadi Murmu

by Swarajya Staff - Jul 22, 2022 03:16 PM +05:30 IST
Himanta Biswa Sarma Reinforces His ‘Chanakya’ Image By Mobilising Support Of Opposition MLAs For Droupadi MurmuIndia's new President Droupadi Murmu and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Snapshot
  • The final results revealed that 25 legislators from the opposition ranks in Assam voted for NDA’s Droupadi Murmu.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s political skills are legendary. And those skills were on display once again when the results of the Presidential polls were announced on Thursday (July 21) evening.

The final results revealed that 25 legislators from the opposition ranks in Assam voted for National Democratic Alliance's (NDA’s) Droupadi Murmu.

An ecstatic Sarma tweeted on Thursday evening that while the NDA’s strength in the 126-member Assam Assembly was 79, Murmu polled 104 votes.

A total of 124 MLAs voted and the two abstentions were reported from the opposition benches. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 60 MLAs in the House while its allies — the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) — have nine and six MLAs respectively. The Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which has four MLAs and was part of the Congress-led alliance, now supports the NDA.

That leaves the opposition camp with 46 MLAs: 29 of the Congress, 16 of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and a lone CPI(M) legislator.

Droupadi Murmu should have, thus, got only 79 votes (of the NDA + BPF legislators), but ended up polling 104 votes. That means 25 MLAs from the opposition camp voted for Murmu.

Thus, more than half the MLAs from the opposition camp cross-voted (that is, voted for Murmu). That in itself would be highly embarrassing for the opposition.

According to state BJP leaders, almost all the AIUDF MLAs voted for Murmu. And quite a few Congress MLAs also defied the party diktat to vote for Yashwant Sinha.

“This is another outcome of our Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s political skills. He is an excellent manager and had appealed to opposition MLAs to vote for Murmu since she is a lady tribal candidate. That so many opposition MLAs heeded his call shows his tremendous appeal cutting across party lines,” said senior minister Ranjit Kumar Das.

The cross-voting, especially by the AIUDF MLAs, was, however, expected. Many of them had also voted for the two Rajya Sabha candidates fielded by the NDA in early April this year. Had they not cross-voted, the opposition’s Ripun Bora would have made it to the Rajya Sabha. But the cross voting had ensured the victory of both NDA candidates.

A bitter Congress had then blamed the AIUDF for cross-voting and had alleged that the AIUDF had a secret understanding with the BJP. Leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia had proudly declared at that time that despite many enticements, none of the Congress MLAs had cross voted.

“Only two of our (Congress) MLAs voted for the NDA candidates and it was known that they would do so, They have been suspended. But all the remaining 27 MLAs voted for Ripun Bora,” Saikia, son of former Assam chief minister and Congress stalwart Hiteswar Saikia, had said in April.

But now, it has become apparent that at least nine Congress MLAs (assuming that all the 16 AIUDF legislators voted for Murmu) voted for the NDA’s Presidential nominee. The number of Congress MLAs who cross voted (nine) amounts to one-third the total legislative strength of the party (the effective strength of the Congress in the assembly is 27 since it suspended two of its MLAs).

And it is yet another feather in Himanta Biswa Sarma’s cap. Sarma has, without an iota of doubt, emerged as the ‘Chanakya’ of not only Assam, but the entire North East. And if his recent meeting with Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Darjeeling’s Raj Bhawan is anything to go by, Sarma is set to spread his wings beyond the region, albeit with the express blessings of the BJP central leadership.

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