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Friday, May 31, 2013

Dr Manmohan Singh elected to RS for 5th consecutive term from Assam

Elected to Rajya Sabha for the fifth consecutive term from Assam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday thanked the people of the state, MLAs and Congress President Sonia Gandhi with a pledge to continue to work for the state’s prosperity. “It is a great honour for me that the people of Assam, through their elected representatives in the state’s Legislative Assembly, have given me an opportunity to serve them again,” Singh said in a statement from Bangkok where he is on a visit.

Dr. Manmohan Singh is close to 81 the 13th and current Prime Minister of India has weathered many a storms. A renowned economist, he is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term, and the first Sikh to hold the office. He was born in Gah (now in Punjab, Pakistan), Singh's family migrated to India during its partition in 1947.; studied at Oxford, held several key positions…. Now represents Assam ….  

In fact he has been representing Assam in the Rajya Sabha ever since 1991; Singh was elected to Rajya Sabha for the fifth consecutive term, bagging 49 first preference votes. Singh was the only contestant for the first preference vote seat as the other parties did not put up any candidate against him. It is another mockery of systems that candidates are put up from places where they have no leaning, thus pushing aside the chances of a local representation…to understand this better……….

The upper house of Parliament of India is the ‘Rajya Sabha’.   It has 250 members, 12 of whom are nominated by the President of India for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services. The remainder of the body is elected by the state and territorial legislatures. Members sit for six-year terms, with one third of the members retiring every two years. The Rajya Sabha meets in continuous sessions and, unlike the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, is not subject to dissolution.  The election to Rajya Sabha is by the members of  Legislative Assembly of States and Union territories by means of Single transferable vote through Proportional representation.

Dr Singh sought-nomination from Assam and the principal opposition in the Parliament, the BJP  announced that it would abstain from the Rajya Sabha polls citing that it opposed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's re-nomination from Assam. BJP state president Sarbananda Sonowal said though Singh represented Assam in the Rajya Sabha in the last four terms, he failed to address the burning problems of influx from Bangladesh and fencing the border with the neighbouring country.

The election was not as smooth as it should have been; Firstpost reported that a nervous Congress issued whip to protect the PM. Apprehensive of last minute trouble from dissidents in Assam Congress, the party leadership issued a terse, three-line whip making it mandatory for all legislators to vote for the Congress candidates in the Rajya Sabha polls.  After a three-line whip is issued, the voters have to compulsorily show their ballot papers to a polling agent, failing which they might be thrown out of the party. The whip assumed importance considering Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s warning to the dissidents on Monday to respect the party position and stay within the ‘Laxman Rekha’. 

There was apparent  tension in the Congress circles with Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Party (AIUDF) also fielding party general secretary Aminul Islam for the second seat. However, Ajmal had earlier assured that his party, which is the main opposition party in the state Assembly, would vote for the prime minister.

The Congress has 79 legislators in the 126-strong Assam Assembly, while AIAUDF has 18 seats. Dissidence against the chief minister has gathered momentum since March and there have been demands for his removal. BJP has 5 members and has announced that its members will not vote. Assam has two Rajya Sabha seats. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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