Opposition leader row: Cong accuses Assam Speaker of acting as BJP agent

Guwahati, Jan 7 (IANS) The opposition Congress on Thursday labelled Assam Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami a “BJP agent” for withdrawing the recognition of its legislature party leader Debabrata Saikia as the Leader of Opposition.

Months ahead of Assembly polls, the main opposition Congress in Assam received a blow as the Speaker on Tuesday withdrew the recognition of its legislature party leader Saikia as the Leader of Opposition.

Assam Pradesh Congress media cell chairperson Bobbeeta Sharma in a statement said the Speaker took the decision with a clear political motive just ahead of the state assembly elections.

“The Speaker of the assembly is acting as a BJP agent rather than the speaker of the august house. Many states in India, have opposition leaders despite the opposition parties having less than one sixth strength of the total membership of the assembly,” the statement said.

The strength of the Congress in the Assembly has reduced to 20. Former Assam PWD Minister and Congress MLA from Golaghat Ajanta Neog and party’s Lakhipur constituency legislator Rajdeep Gowala joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party last week. With the exit of these two and the deaths of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and ex-Speaker Pranab Gogoi, both Congress legislators,the numbers were depleted. Further, a member of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Pabindra Deka resigned from the house and BJP MLA Rajen Borhtakur died while the Speaker of the Assembly will not be counted.

Assam Assembly officials said that after the resignation of two Congress MLAs recently, the strength of the Congress in the house has come down to 20, one less than the required number in the 126-member Assembly.

An Assembly official said that the present strength of the Congress legislature party is not equal to the quorum fixed to constitute a sitting of the House, that is one-sixth of the total number of members of the House as required under the law.

The Assam assembly polls are likely to be held in April-May next year along with West Bengal and Kerala.

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