After two Congress MLAs, opposition AIUDF legislator, Phanidhar Talukdar joined ruling BJP after resigning from the membership of the Assam assembly, official and party sources said on Thursday.An Assam Assembly official said that the All India United Democratic Front MLA from Bhabanipur constituency submitted his resignation to Speaker Biswajit Daimary. With Talukdar's resignation, five assembly seats fell vacant.A senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party said that Talukdar on Wednesday met Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who welcomed him into the saffron party fold.The BJP leader said that Talukdar went to the state party headquarters on Wednesday night and formally joined the party in presence of state party President Bhabesh Kalita.Talukdar, who defeated BJP's ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) candidate Ranjit Deka, on Thursday said he quit the AIUDF for "the larger interest" of the people of his constituency as well as Assam and would work for the welfare of the people of the state.Talukdar was the lone Hindu lawmaker in Muslim based party, the AIUDF, whose strength in the 126-member Assam assembly has now gone down to 15.
BJP sources said that the party might give ticket to Talukdar in the ensuing by-elections to Bhabanipur seat in western Assam.On August 1, two-time Assam Congress MLA, Sushanta Borgohain joined the BJP while on June 21, four-time Congress legislator and prominent Assam tea garden leader Rupjyoti Kurmi had deserted the party and joined the saffron fold.In the March-April assembly elections, the BJP won 60 seats while its electoral allies AGP and United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) secured nine and six seats respectively. Former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who is currently a Union Minister, is yet to resign from the assembly.The Congress, which governed Assam for 15 years (2001-2016), managed 29 seats in the last assembly elections, three more than 2016 polls, when it lost Assam to the BJP. Of the other partners of the Congress led 10-party "Mahajot", the AIUDF won 16 seats up from 13 last time, the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) got four seats against 12, and the Communist Party of India-Marxist won just one seat.The Assam Congress after a core committee meeting presided by Congress President Bhupen Kumar Borah earlier this week announced that the AIUDF and BPF would no longer be partners of the 'Mahajot' (Grand Alliance) in the state. Borah had told the media that the party has decided to sever ties with the Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF and tribal party BPF.Two MLAs - one each from UPPL and BPF - had died.