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Assam: Congress leader sends legal notice to AIUDF MLA for ‘cross-voting’ allegation in RS polls

Elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats in Assam were held on March 31, with BJP and its ally, UPPL, winning both seats.

Written by Tora Agarwala | New Delhi |
Updated: April 8, 2022 2:35:51 am
Assam LoP Debabrata Saikia served a legal notice to AIUDF legislator Karim Uddin Barbhuiya for allegedly accusing a section of Congress MLAs of cross-voting in the elections. (ANI)

One week after the Rajya Sabha polls in Assam, the mudslinging between the Opposition parties continues, with Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia of the Congress Thursday serving a legal notice to AIUDF legislator Karim Uddin Barbhuiya for allegedly accusing a section of Congress MLAs of cross-voting in the elections.

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Elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats in Assam were held on March 31, with BJP and its ally, UPPL, winning both seats. The BJP-led alliance’s victory — despite not having the numbers for the second seat indicated that at least seven Opposition MLAs broke ranks to vote for the BJP. Ever since, a war of words has erupted between the Congress and AIUDF, which had fielded a joint candidate.

Saikia’s counsel Sarfraz Nawaz, in the notice to Barbhuiya — who represents Sonai seat in Cachar district in Barak Valley — said that the latter had alleged that “7-8 MLAs of the Congress had voted for the BJP” in a press meet last week.

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“You further alleged that a game was played by the Congress party in cohorts with Sri Akhil Gogoi under the leadership of Sri Sathe and Sri Bhupen Bora,” the notice added. While Bora is the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee President, All India Congress Committee secretary and in-charge Prithviraj Sathe was the Congress’s agent for the polls. The notice said that Barbhuiya had also allegedly said that if the houses of the MLAs close to Sathe were searched, “packets and packets of cash” would be recovered.

“My client states that the aforesaid statements issued by you in the press meet are entirely false, fallacious, frivolous, scandalous, derogatory and defamatory. The statements made in the press meet were made intentionally and maliciously to mislead the public and denigrate the image of the Indian National Congress,” Nawaz said in the notice, demanding that Barbhuiya tender an “unconditional public apology”, and withdraw his statements. Barbhuyan has been given seven days to respond, failing which appropriate criminal and civil actions would be initiated against him.

 

 

Speaking to The Indian Express, Barbhuiyan said that he had not officially received the notice yet, and would respond once he did. “However, I am not taking it seriously… The Congress should be fighting the BJP on issues such as price rise etc. Instead they are issuing notices against the AIUDF,” he said, adding that there were “divisions” within the Congress party. “I maintain that it was the Congress MLAs who voted for the BJP,” he alleged.

Trouble between the Congress and AIUDF began before the polls on March 31, with both parties making allegations about the possibility of cross voting. On April 1, Congress spokesperson Manjit Mahanta, in a statement, alleged that five legislators of the AIUDF had “entered” Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s residence at 6 am, insinuating that they had voted for the NDA. Barbhuiya was among the five named in the statement.

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