The ongoing parliamentary election being held in three phases in Assam from April 7 to April 24. The ruling Congress party is fighting in thirteen constituencies out of 14, with no candidate contesting in the Kokrajhar parliamentary constituency as its coalition partner the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) has given candidature to Chandan Brahma, the present minister of tourism and transport in Tarun Gogoi led government in the state. Further, Congress has introduced only one new face – Gaurav Gogoi, the only son of the present chief minister of the state. Gaurav is contesting from the prestigious Kaliabar constituency, which is considered to be a fiefdom of the Gogoi family.
While the opposition party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has given candidature to former parliamentarian Arun Sarma opposite Gogoi, the BJP, which lacks a strong base in Assam, has nominated not a very known face Mrinal Saikia. But most interestingly, the twist is All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) supremo Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, who was shouting to be anti-Congress and of his aim to defeat the son of Tarun Gogoi by launching a strong candidate in the Kaliabar constituency, has fielded Bijoy Kumar Tiru, who had lost in the last assembly election. AIUDF chief has earlier said publicly that “Our aim is to not to allow any BJP candidate win from the state. So, we have to accept some tricks for that. But we have no relation with the ruling Congress as it is now a sinking boat and AIUDF does not get in to that sinking now.” Ajmal also doesn't hesitate from making statements such as “Allah will not forgive if BJP wins even a single seat in Assam.”
Seen as the saviour of “illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangaldesh, Ajmal repeatedly denies of any pre-poll understanding with Congress, saying that “These are all media-created reports. We are united against the Congress and fighting it everywhere”; what’s raising the eyebrows is the selection procedure of the AIUDF which makes it crystal clear that there is a secret pact between the two parties.
Ajmal’s brother Sirajuddin is fighting from Barpeta rather than from Kaliabar, from where he had contested in the last Lok Sabha polls against MP and Tarun Gogoi’s brother Dip Gogoi. So is it to help Gaurav Gogoi a smooth win? Not only in Kaliabar, the party has not given any strong candidate in most of the constituencies where Congress candidate is comparatively strong than other opposition candidate.
Clarifies senior journalist and intellectual Haidar Hussain, “Most of the leaders of the AIUDF were once related with Congress. So, whatever the party supremo declares in the public place has no similarity with their activities. Even at the time of Rajya Sabha, the party played a big role in the win of all the three Congress candidates. AIUDF helps Congress at each and every moment. They are a part of UPA government in the Center. We should not have any doubt about it.”
Adds Dhirendra Nath Chakraborty, one of the most prominent journalist and editor of the local daily Sankarjyoti, “Congress and AIUDF are now becoming the same side of a coin because both of them treat BJP as their main opponent and both are using the emotions of the minority and treating the minority people as their vote bank.”
Meanwhile AIUDF MLA Mazhar Bhuyan, who abstained from voting in the recently held Rajya Sabha elections, has also declared that Ajmal runs his party as per Congress. Ajmal has always been maintaining good relations with Congress. Most of the party leaders know of it but do not dare to declare it in open.
AGP’s Downfall: A boon for Congress?
The regional party AGP (Asom Gana Parishad) which had once ruled Assam for two times and the leaders were worshiped as the representatives of God is now treated as the enemy of the state by most of the people. The party had come to power in 1985 for the first time and the leaders who led the Axom Movement directly came to Dispur to rule from the university hostel. The leaders then promised the people of Assam that they would create a golden Assam but instead got involved in corruption, garnering huge properties for themselves. The misrule and corruption resulted in party losing 1991 assembly elections. But after 1996 win under the leadership of Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, AGP failed to come to power.
Not only in assembly elections but also in any other election, be it parliamentary or panchayat elections, AGP has never been able to perform and deliver good results. Senior advocate Nekibur Zaman says, “The party has now become autocratic by nature. The party president runs the party according to his own will. That’s why though people of Assam want regionalism, they do not expect it to come through these leaders of AGP.”
The former AGP president Brindaban Goswami who had been keeping away from all party related affairs in the last five years, had recently come to the party office and expressed his interest to work for the party. Goswami says, “I was away from the party head office but I never decided to resign. I calmly involved myself in my constituency. But now I feel that if I keep myself away from the party during these hard times, I will not be able to forgive myself. So, I went to the party office. I am ready to serve the party and take any kind of responsibility.”
However, on the other hand, another former party president Chandra Mohan Patuwary has left AGP and joined BJP. He is now contesting elections from Barpeta constituency. Patuwary says, “AGP was formed by the people of Assam but the present leadership doesn’t pay any importance to the people’s choice. During my presidentship, I was able to reunite the party, which was divided in to four different fractions. But I always felt neglected. The executive president Atul Bora told me to sit for alliance talks with BJP and I spoke to the senior leaders of BJP. But the party president Prafulla Mahanta told media that I am not authorised to talk. Then how is it possible for me to remain in this party?”
Not only has Patuwary left AGP, there are other senior leaders such as former law minister Hitendra Nath Goswami, former founder leader Devadatta Borkotoki, former Mayor of Guwahati Municipal Corporation Queen Oza and former spokesperson of the party Apurba Bhattacharya who have also resigned from AGP.
Meanwhile former Congress MP Madhab Rajbongshi has joined AGP and is contesting from Mongoldoi constituency. The party spokesman Manuj Saikia tells, “If someone leaves a political party, it is treated as a loss to the party. But at the same time, some others have joined us. This is a common phenomenon with any political party. AGP is not bothered about that. Our aim is to win the election. Our candidates are efficient and they are really public figures.”
AGP had fought unitedly with BJP in the last parliamentary election but this time it is alone and treating BJP as its main opposition. Many senior political analysts are of the view that the move would help the Congress.
It is important to mention here that except the candidature of two Ajmal brothers, most of the candidates of the party are not very strong and are not very known faces to the common people as well as for the voters. In fact, a fraction of All Minority Students Union has criticized AIUDF supremo for playing the role of B team of the Congress party. The organization also declares that Ajmal is doing everything for his own benefit and is least concerned about the problems of minority people in Assam.
Though the AIUDF chief has declared time and again that he would clear all the doubts, he refrains to address the media regarding the hot issue of AIUDF’s alleged ‘secret’ partnership with Congress.Scared?