Guwahati: Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday filed his nomination from a Rajya Sabha seat in Assam and is all set to be elected unopposed with the opposition deciding not to put up any candidate against him.
The Shipping Minister filed his papers before Returning Officer Dulal Pegu at the Assam Assembly. The former chief minister is the unanimous candidate of the ruling alliance in the state comprising BJP, AGP and UPPL.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, AGP leader and Agriculture Minister Atul Bora, UPPL leader and Handloom and Textile Minister U G Brahma, Bodoland Territorial Region chief Pramod Bodo, BJP state president Bhabesh Kalita, and cabinet ministers and saffron party leaders accompanied him.
The Rajya Sabha seat fell vacant after Biswajit Daimary resigned from the Upper House following his election to the Assam Assembly. He is currently its Speaker.
Sonowal was elected to the Assembly from Majuli for the second consecutive term in May this year. The 59-year-old BJP leader was inducted into the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July.
The last date for the filing of nominations for the Rajya Sabha polls is September 22, while the papers will be scrutinised on September 23, and the results will be declared on October 4.
However, Sonowal's election appears to be certain as the opposition parties have decided not to put up their candidates.
Sonowal expressed his gratitude to the people of Assam for giving him the opportunity to serve them and sought the blessings of all. He also thanked the prime minister and the people of Majuli.
Sarma thanked the opposition for not putting up any candidates in the Rajya Sabha polls.
''My best wishes are with the Union minister, from whose vision and leadership we have gained a lot. We hope that he will continue to raise the voice of Assam and the Northeast before the Centre," the chief minister told reporters.
The BJP's strength will come down to 59 in the 120-member House after Sonowal's shift to the Rajya Sabha. Its allies AGP and UPPL have nine and five seats respectively.
Five assembly seats are currently vacant with two Congress and one AIUDF legislator resigning their parties to join the BJP, and two UPPL MLAs succumbing to COVID-19. After Sonowal's resignation as an MLA, the number of vacant seats will increase to six.
There are seven Rajya Sabha seats from Assam, of which six are currently occupied - two each by BJP (Bhubaneswar Kalita and Kamakhya Prasad Tasa) and Congress (Ripun Bora and Ranee Narah), one by AGP (Birendra Prasad Baishya) and one by Independent lawmaker Ajit Kumar Bhuyan.