Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia loses status of Leader of Opposition in Assam Assembly

Speaker’s move comes as strength of his party is one less than required number of 21 MLAs

Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia has lost the status of Leader of the Opposition in the 126-member Assam Assembly.

An official notification issued said the Assembly had withdrawn the status from Mr. Saikia as the present strength of the Congress is one less than the required number of 21 MLAs.

Mr. Saikia represents the Nazira constituency in eastern Assam.

“The present strength of the Indian National Congress Legislature Party, Assam Legislative Assembly, is not equal to the quorum fixed to constitute a sitting of the House that is one-sixth of the total number of Members of the House as required… therefore, the Hon’ble Speaker, Assam Legislative Assembly, has been pleased to withdraw the recognition of Debabrata Saikia, MLA, as Leader of the Opposition, with effect from January 1, 2021,” the notification said.

The Congress had won 26 seats in the 2016 Assembly elections to take the second spot after the BJP bagged 60 seats.

Six months later, Baithalangso MLA Mansing Rongpi quit the Congress and got re-elected on BJP ticket. In 2019, Jania MLA Abdul Khaleque resigned after winning the Barpeta Lok Sabha seat as the Congress candidate. The All India United Democratic Front’s Rafiqul Islam won the seat in the by-election.

Between February and November 2020, the Congress’s Sibsagar MLA Pranab Kumar Gogoi and former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who represented Titabar, died. In December 2020, two Congress MLAs – Ajanta Neog (Golaghat) and Rajdeep Goala (Lakhipur) – quit and joined the BJP.

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