BJP’s action “Murder of Democracy”: Debabrata Saikia

Saikia was removed from the position of Leader of the Opposition in the Assam State Assembly allegedly by questionable means that violate key rules


The BJP led Government in Assam has removed Debabrata Saikia, the leader of the Assam Congress Legislature Party (ACLP), from the post of Leader of the Opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly on January 1, 2021. The decision of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was notified by a Gazette notification on the same day, but it came into the public domain allegedly only on January 4, that too after office hours!

The Assam Congress Legislature Party (ACLP) has strongly opposed the decision taken by the BJP government. Reacting the entire development, Debabrata Saikia said, “Whatever action has taken by BJP is nothing but murder of democracy. The decision neither has any justification nor it has any constitutional validity. ACLP will go the court, if the notification is not revoked. BJP is frightened of the popular support towards Congress. So, they are trying to malign us by unconstitutional and unprecedented action.”

It may be mentioned that, Debabrata Saikia, son of former Chief Minister of Assam Late Hiteswar Saikia, is strong voice against BJP in the present political context in Assam. He is the most popular leader of Assam Congress, for his people-oriented activities, relentless campaigns against anti-people policies of BJP government, and courageous actions against communal propaganda of BJP and its allied organisations. Due to uncompromising and courageous stand against BJP, Debabrata Saikia has become a thorn in the side of the BJP in Assam. But, the manner in which the BJP removed Saikia has revealed how spiteful the party can be.

Firstly, from the Gazette notification, it appears that decision was not taken following all constitutional norms. As per “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Assam Legislative Assembly”, it is stipulated that “Leader of the Opposition” means the Leader of the largest recognised party in the opposition and recognised as such by the Speaker. But the Gazette Notification of Government of Assam No: LLE 8/ 2016/ 883 dated January 1, 2021 says, “The present strength of Indian National Congress Legislature Party in Assam Legislative Assembly 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 aforementioned provisions and therefore, the Hon’ble Speaker, Assam Legislative Assembly, has been pleased to withdraw the recognition of Shri Debabrata Saikia, MLA, as Leader of the Opposition, Assam Legislative Assembly w.e.f. 1st January, 2021.” Hence, question arises, whether the number of the Members of ACLP has fallen to less than one-sixth of the total number of the Members of Assam Legislative Assembly or not? Let us find out by taking a closer look at the numbers.

The Assam Arithmetic

In the 14th Assam Legislative Assembly, the Congress won 26 out of a total 126 seats in 2016. Just after the election, one Congress MLA Mansing Rongpi resigned from the Assembly and re-elected as BJP MLA from Baithalangsho. Thus, number of Congress MLA reduced to 25 in the initial period itself. In 2019, another Congress Legislature Abdul Khaleque, got elected to Lok Sabha from Barpeta parliamentary constituency. The seat he vacated, Jania was later won by AIUDF.

After that, two veteran Congress MLA Pranab Gogoi, former Speaker of Assam Legislative Assembly and Tarun Gogoi, former Chief Minister of Assam passed away, by-polls for their seats couldn’t be held. Another two Congress Legislators, Ajanta Neog and Rajdeep Gowala resigned a few days ago from state Assembly to join BJP. Thus, number of members of Congress party in Assam Legislative Assembly has now been reduced to 20. But at the same time, the strength of Assam Legislative Assembly has been reduced to 122 from 126.

Likewise, AGP Legislator Pabindra Deka and BPF Legislator Emanual Muchahary resigned from state Assembly to join AJP and BJP respectively. Another, BJP MLA who was elected to state Assembly in the bye-poll of Rangapara Constituency post parliamentary election in 2019, Rajen Borthakur too died recently. All these seats are lying vacant. Thus, the present strength of Assam Legislative Assembly is 119.

Now, the strength of Assam Congress Legislature Party is 20, which is enough number to prove one-sixth of the present strength of Assam Legislative Assembly. Thus, it proves that the initiative taken by BJP government just before 4 moths of State Legislative Assembly election is nothing but a political revenge against Congress and to diminish the image of Debabrata Saikia.

Assam Congress demands justice

Meanwhile, ACLP General Secretary Durga Bhumij, who is MLA from Doomdooma, strongly protested the removal of Debabrata Saikia as Leader of the Opposition. In a letter to Speaker of Assam Legislative Assembly, he pointed out that in Chhattisgarh, BJP has only 14 MLAs in a 90-member House, where BJP Legislature party Leader Dharamlal Kaushik has been recognised as Leader of the Opposition. In the 403-member Uttar Pradesh State Assembly, SP has 48 Legislators, where SP leader Ram Gobind Choudhry is acting as Leader of the Opposition. In the 294-member State Assembly of West Bengal, Abdul Mannan of Congress has been recognised as Leader of the Opposition, though Congress has just 23 members there. In the 70-member State Assembly of national capital Delhi, BJP has only 8 MLAs but its leader, Rambir Singh Bidhuri has been recognised as Leader of the Opposition in Delhi Legislative Assembly. The Congress MLA demanded to revoke the decision and to restore Debabrata Saikia as Leader of the opposition.

Congress MP Abdul Khaleque said, “BJP is undermining the constitutional provisions.” He further said, “Debabrata Saikia must be reinstated as Leader of the opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly.” AICC Secretary and former MLA Bhupen Borah on the other had said, “The decision to withdraw the status of Leader of the opposition from Debabrata Saikia is nothing but a pressure game of BJP. Congress will never compromise to any actions of BJP to diminish our constitutional values. People will treat them strongest lesson to such unconstitutional and immoral actions.”


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