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"If We Call, They Will Join": Himanta Sarma's Cross-Over Warning To Congress

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has put the Congress on alert - even before the Lok Sabha results are declared - warning his former party that several, if not all, of its winning candidates in the state will jump ship to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's side shortly after the election.

Mr Sarma's jab at the Congress - his message to voters was that there is, therefore, no point in voting for the opposition party - came as he started his campaign from Assam's Karimganj district.

"The question is whether a Congress candidate will remain in Congress or not. Now, no one wants to stay in Congress... everyone wants to join the BJP. This time, if I can bring all Congress candidates... then what will be the benefit of voting for Congress?" the Assam Chief Minister told reporters.

Mr Sarma laid credit for cross-overs at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's feet, proclaiming, "PM is the Sun, and we are the Moon", and claimed opposition leaders "are ours... if we call, they will join us".

"Modiji will again become Prime Minister and there is no question about who is a 'minority' and 'majority'. There will only be 'sabka saath sabka vikas' ('development with all, for all', the BJP's tagline). There is no opposition. They are ours and if we call, then they will join us," he said.

The Assam leader made similar claims in November 2020; that was before the Assembly election in which the BJP-led alliance dominated, winning 75 of the state's 126 seats. The BJP won 60 of 93.

"Before polls, people change political positions and there are a few good leaders still in the Congress in Assam. I have invited them to join the BJP. I am in touch with many of them..." he said then.

Mr Sarma himself joined the BJP from the Congress in 2015, after sharp swipes at party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. He was seen then as the mastermind of the Congress' hat-trick of wins from 2001 to 2011, but fell out after being overlooked for the Chief Minister's post.

The 2024 election dates were announced by the Election Commission of India on Saturday. Assam - which sends 14 MPs to the Lok Sabha - will vote in seven phases from April 19.

In 2019 the BJP contested 10 of those 14 and won nine. The saffron party's allies - the Asom Gana Parishad and the Bodoland People's Front contested four but failed to win any.

Three were won by the Congress. The AIUDF and an independent lawmaker won one each.

Source: NDTV

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