The Congress and five other parties including Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the Left announced a grand alliance to take on the BJP in the upcoming Assam Assembly polls. The decision comes after months of discussion and division in the Congress-state leadership over the idea of an alliance with the AIUDF, a political party which enjoys the support of Bengali Muslims.
The BJP, which leads an alliance government in the state, has set a target of 100-plus seats.
“We have come to the conclusion that in the upcoming Assam Assembly elections, we will all fight together to oust the BJP,” Ripun Bora, the President of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee said in a press conference post discussion attended by senior leaders of the Congress including Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Singh Baghel and Mukul Wasnik and leadership of five other parties including the AIUDF, the CPI(M), CPI, CPI(M-L) and the Anchalik Gana Morcha.
The two new regional parties, the Assam Jatiya Parishad formed by former All Assam Students Union leaders and the Raijor Dal, founded by members of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti-led by jailed activist Akhil Gogoi, have so far maintained a distance from the Congress. They are, however, talking to each other on prospects of an alliance.
Bora and Jitendra Singh, the Congress General Secretary in-charge of Assam reached out to these regional parties. “We will keep our doors open to invite other regional parties of Assam and other anti-BJP parties to join our alliance,” Bora said.
“We, six parties, appeal to other parties that if you want to save Assam, you want to help the youth of Assam realise their dreams and aspirations, you want Assam’s development, then we should come together and fight the elections,” Singh said.
But Bora claimed that Raijor Dal and the AJP contesting elections separately would not affect Congress-led alliance’s prospects.
Meanwhile, some Congress leaders are concerned over the question of leadership in the state amid reports of opposition to Bora’s leadership in the state.
“This is a concern. We are going to discuss it,” said a senior leader from Delhi who has been deputed to Assam for polls.
AICC General Secretary Mukul Wasnik skirted the question, saying “let’s not have all the questions answered on one single day,” when asked about who would be the face of the alliance.
The constituents of the alliance are yet to thrash out seat-sharing, several leaders said.
“Congress will appoint a three-member committee for these discussions to thrash out details of the alliance,” a senior Congress leader told East Mojo.
A senior leader of the AIUDF said the party is looking to contest 37 seats, half of what it contested in 2015. “But we are open to further discussions,” the leader told EastMojo clarifying that the election would be fought under “big brother” Congress’ leadership.
The grand alliance is likely to announce a common minimum programme.