Two Congress MLAs and a Bodo outfit’s senior leader on Tuesday joined the BJP in Assam, months ahead of the Assembly elections.
Former Assam PWD Minister and Congress MLA from Golaghat Ajanta Neog, Congress’ Lakhipur MLA Rajdeep Gowalla, and senior Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) Bolendra Mushahary joined the ruling party in the presence of its state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Mushahary is a former MLA of the BPF, an ally of the BJP since 2016. Gowalla was also Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the Assembly.
With the exit of these two MLAs and the deaths of former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and ex-Speaker Pranab Gogoi, both Congress legislators, the strength of the Congress in the Assembly has come down to 20.
Neog and Gowalla had met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his two-day visit to Guwahati on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had expelled Neog for alleged anti-party activities.
Political observers felt that the exit of two senior Congress leaders was a major setback for the Congress ahead of the Assembly polls likely to be held in April-May next year.
After joining the BJP, Neog said the Congress was a “leaderless and directionless organization that works as a private limited party”.
She even condemned the Congress’ association with All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), a Muslim-dominated party in Assam.
Welcoming the new BJP members, Sarma said that Assam’s two famous and skilled politicians had joined the BJP and “we warmly welcome them. From now on, we expect that they will keep in mind the party’s welfare, and be driven to work for the people”.
Sarma is the convener of the BJP-led anti-Congress alliance, the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).