Accusing the BJP-led Assam government of indulging in “horsetrading” at a time when the state is reeling under floods, the Trinamool Congress and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the students’ wing of Congress party, Thursday protested outside the luxury hotel in Guwahati where dissident Shiv Sena MLAs from Maharashtra are camping.
About 30 workers led by TMC’s Assam unit chief Ripun Bora raised slogans like ‘Shiv Sena Go Back’ and ‘Save Democracy’ outside the hotel, before the police detained them.
Bora told The Indian Express that the BJP is “indulging in horse-trading”, instead of helping the flood victims. “We demand that they put a stop to this at once. Help flood victims, instead of buying and selling MLAs,” said Bora. The protestors were detained by the Guwahati Police as they “did not have permission”, the police said.
“We took them to the police station,” said Nabaneet Mahanta, Deputy Commissioner of Guwahati Police (West). He added that there were about 25-30 workers and the sloganeering did not last for more than 10 minutes.
Shortly after, there NSUI also held a protest. “They were detained and later let off,” said Mahanta.
Jince Bora of the NSUI said that the tradition of “horse-trading” was never prevalent in Assam. “But Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is trying to play dirty politics. It is insensitive especially at a time when the state is reeling under floods,” he said.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said that the central leaders, including the Prime Minister, should be in Assam taking stock of the severe floods. “But this power-hungry government does not understand the suffering of the people,” he said, addressing the media.
Since Wednesday, there has been heavy police presence outside the hotel after Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde arrived with the rebel MLAs. Assam BJP MLAs, too, have been at the hotel. Thowra MLA Sushanta Borgohain has been with the Shiv Sena leaders ever since they arrived at the airport Wednesday morning.
Currently, BJP MLA and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs and Irrigation Ashok Singhal is also there. To the media, the BJP leaders have maintained that they had gone to meet the MLAs who are their “close friends”. On Thursday, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma was also spotted driving into the hotel. “I have nothing to do with this (Maharashtra politicians). I have come just for a cup of tea,” he told reporters from his car.