As Congress alleged that his meeting with Mamata Banerjee spurred TMC to abstain from voting in the Vice President election, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma cleared the air. He spoke exclusively to Republic TV after arriving in Delhi on Friday ahead of President-elect Droupadi Murmu’s oath-taking ceremony. According to Sarma, TMC’s refusal to back opposition candidate Margaret Alva was reflective of Congress’ treatment of allies. Maintaining that Congress solely cares about safeguarding the interests of its president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, he opined that the party should have engaged with TMC.
Himanta Biswa Sarma remarked, “TMC has 37 MPs in the House. I don’t have inside information but if TMC is saying this in the public space that we weren’t consulted, you can understand the situation of Congress today. They could have called or sent a leader to Kolkata. Perhaps this was not done. One thing is clear the Congress party is so engaged in mother and son that they can’t see anything beyond this.”
The Assam CM added, “When Droupadi Murmu emerged victorious, the entire country celebrated her victory. And Congress created a ruckus in front of the ED office. I don’t know the equation between TMC and Congress but this proves that Congress doesn’t care about the country, tribal community and allies and its sole agenda is mother and son.”
A day earlier, senior Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had alleged, “West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar is Vice President candidate, he has often confronted Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. He met CM Banerjee and Assam CM HB Sarma in Darjeeling. The next day he was announced as VP candidate, which means there was a Darjeeling pact among them.”
During the interview, the Assam CM also explained the rationale behind the massive cross-voting by Congress MLAs during the Presidential election. According to him, 22 opposition legislators voted as per their conscience as the party whip doesn’t apply. Arguing that Congress should have supported Droupadi Murmu’s candidature from the beginning, he predicted that the Sonia Gandhi-led party will be identified as “anti-tribal”.
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma opined, “There are 126 MLAs in Assam. Two opposition MLAs did not cast their vote. She got 104 votes though we had 79 votes. We got 25 extra votes. 3 votes are from a political party that had told us in advance. So, we got 22 extra votes out of which 15-16 votes were from Congress. The reason for that is there is no cross-voting in the Presidential election like the Rajya Sabha election. This is a vote of conscience. That’s why you don’t need to show it to anyone. India is getting a tribal woman president for the first time. There is enthusiasm in every house.”
“Assam is a tribal-dominated state. So, we are more enthusiastic. That’s why I feel that MLAs and MPs have not done cross-voting but voted on the basis of conscience,” he elaborated.
On this occasion, Himanta Biswa Sarma also extended his support to the Har Ghar Tiranga movement. He observed, “In the last 5 years, we were busy proving our citizenship. NRC came, then there was a case. Ultimately, NRC dominated the politics of Assam. Anyone can put their name in the NRC. I became Indian legally. You can become Indian emotionally if you respect the Constitution, the sacrifices of the great persons during the Independence struggle, or by hoisting the tricolour in every house. For me, it is more important that you should consider India as your mother emotionally.”