Assam MLA Shiladitya Dev, who gave his resignation to the BJP earlier this week after he was denied a ticket to contest the assembly election, has returned to the party fold as the BJP said he will continue to remain in the party as an “important member”.
Assam minister and North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma and BJP National General Secretary Dilip Saikia met Mr Dev at his home on Friday. Mr Dev, who had announced that he will contest as an independent, has now decided to sit out this three-phase election to the 126-member assembly.
“I cannot allow Congress to win because this will lead to the dominance of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal as both the parties are in alliance. So I decided to stay with my party,” Mr Dev said.
Mr Dev, a BJP old-timer with deep roots in the party’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was replaced with Ramakrishna Ghosh in the Hindu Bengali-dominated constituency of Hojai. The assembly seat turned into a BJP stronghold following the passage of Citizenship Amendment Act.
He is among the BJP 12 MLAs denied tickets this time. The BJP named 12 new faces for their seats.
Dilip Paul, another old-timer with the party, too was vocal about not being fielded from Silchar.
The BJP is now negotiating with upset sitting MLAs in several constituencies where the party has fielded new candidates to avoid votes getting divided.
Himanta Biswa Sarma’s the BJP’s main election strategist in the northeast, said, “”Dev will campaign for the party across the state in Hojai and Lumding.”
Dilip Saikia said, “Dev will be suitably accommodated in the party and in the new government.”
BJP sources said that attempts are being made to establish talks with Dilip Paul who had already filed his nomination to contest independently in Silchar, another Bengali Hindu-dominated constituency.
The BJP is contesting the Assam assembly polls in alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL). The AGP too faced a similar situation after its sitting MLA in Tezpur, Brindaban Goswami, was replaced with Prithibiraj Rabha, the son of cultural icon Bishnu Prasad Rabha. A senior leader in the AGP said Mr Goswami withdrew his nomination after a meeting with Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Meanwhile, BJP minister Sum Ronghang, who was denied ticket from Diphu (ST) seat, joined the Congress which gave him a nomination from the same constituency.
The election in Assam will begin on March 27. The results will be out on May 2.
(With inputs from PTI)