The first day of the Assam Assembly’s winter session saw uproar – protests, adjournments and a walkout – over an alleged land grab scam involving a real estate company linked to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s family.
There was also uproar over opposition being stopped from moving motions to discusses the topic; there were two, including one by the Congress, and both were refused by Speaker Biswajit Daimary.
The BJP also sprang a surprise – one Congress MLA pledged support to the ruling party.
“We moved an adjournment motion on this very serious issue… about land for the landless. There is no provision (in the policy) to give private companies (land) or transfer land to any private entity. But, in The Wire story, we see these rules violated in the RBS realtor case. And it is alleged family of the Assam Chief Minister were involved,” Debabrata Saikia, the Leader of the Opposition, said.
“This is very serious… the Chief Minister is not above suspicion,” he added.
AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam said: We had moved an adjournment motion on the Gorukhuti violent eviction – in which two villagers were shot dead by police and others injured. This created uproar and outrage globally… so we wanted to discuss it in the House. But it was rejected, so we walked out.”
Opposition MPs also protested outside the Assembly.
On Sunday the Congress accused Chief Minister Sarma and his family of “grabbing” 18 acres of land meant for the landless. They demanded his immediate dismissal and called for a Supreme Court-monitored probe by a special investigative team, or SIT.
A few weeks ago, The Wire and Guwahati-based news portal The Cross Current published a story alleging that RBS Realtors, co-founded by Mr Sarma’s wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, is occupying 18 acres of government land intended for landless individuals and institutions.
Most of the land, it was alleged, was acquired over two phases – 2006-2007 and then in 2009.
The Congress was in power at the time and Mr Sarma, then with the party, was a powerful minister.
Meanwhile, Sashikanta Das, the Congress MLA from the Raha constituency met Mr Sarma and pledged his support to the state government; the BJP says this is the first step to his switching parties.
Earlier two Congress and one AIUDF MLAs crossed the aisle and reclaimed the Assembly seats they surrendered in the recent by poll.
“Today, for all practical purpose, he will work closely with our government. This is part of a process of joining us… more opposition MLAs will join… at least six to seven are in contact,” Mr Sarma said.
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