Himanta Biswa Sarma rips into the Congress-AIUDF alliance

Guwahati: Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday alleged the Congress has communally polarised the assembly election environment in the northeastern state by joining hands with Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF which, he said, will benefit the ruling NDA.

Sarma, also the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), said had Congress contested separately, the three-phase assembly polls would have been fought on the plank of development.

But the opposition party has made this poll into a “conflict of civilisation’ by aligning with the AIUDF, Sarma told reporters on the sidelines of the book release event.

The AIUDF is a part of the Grand Alliance comprising the Congress, Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), CPI (M), CPI, CPI-ML and the Anchalik Gana Morcha.

Replying to a query on the possible impact of the Congress-All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) alliance, Sarma said, “Yes, it will positively impact us. It will lead to complete polarisation because the people of Assam will not vote for the AIUDF. So, by forming an alliance with a communal party, Congress has polarised the elections completely.”

The BJP’s campaign for the assembly polls in the northeastern state will focus on ‘surakshya’ (security), ‘sabhayata’ (civilisation) and ‘vikas’ (development), the NEDA convenor said.

“We talk about ‘surakshya’ all along because the composite Assamese culture is under threat,” he said.

The saffron party will raise the issue of security from across the border as well as from within the state, the senior minister said.

“We talk about civilisation because it is under threat. Then we have to talk about development. These will be the three pillars of our campaign,” Sarma said.

When asked if Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be an issue during the polls, Sarma said, nobody is concerned about it “as it lost traction after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state and the world.

“Neither am I speaking for it nor against it. People have gone beyond that. Already Parliament has passed a law. It is a fait accompli. People have seen many things over the last year. They are talking about something else now. The focus has shifted from CAA to Ajmal.”

On whether jailed anti-CAA activist and Raijor Dal chief Akhil Gogoi, who is contesting polls, will be a factor, Sarma said, he will only divide the votes of the opposition parties and the BJP will not be affected by it.

“I think there will be a massive victory for the BJP in Assam. We are trying to improve our tally from that of last time. I am hopeful of a huge victory… We are targeting 100 seats in the 126-member Assembly,” he added.

The 2016 elections in Assam had given a fractured mandate and no party got an absolute majority.

The BJP became the single largest party with 60 MLAs, while its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the BPF had won 14 and 12 seats respectively. The ruling coalition also had the support of an Independent MLA.

The Congress had won 26 seats, while the AIUDF bagged 13.

When asked if the BJP considers this election as ‘the last battle of Saraighat’, Sarma said the party considered the 2016 polls to be so and this time it will be a continuation of the victory in the last assembly polls.

In the famous Battle of Saraighat in 1671, Ahom general Lachit Borphukan had defeated the Mughals led by Raja Ramsingh-I.

“Now, we are on a much better footing to fight the civilisational conflict. Last time, we were not in a strong position as we were not in power. In 2016 assembly polls, we had given a war cry of “last battle of Saraighat’,” he said.

The BJP had termed 2016 assembly polls as the “last battle of Saraighat” to defeat the former chief minister Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government.

On friendly contests in some seats between the NDA partners BJP and AGP, the Finance and Health minister said, “It doesn’t matter. I will tell you after the election why (it happened). If I explain it now, my entire plan will fail. It is sufficient to say that we are solid partners and what we are doing is known to both partners.”

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