Ripun Bora  Credit: Twitter/File

Sivasagar (Assam): It is not in the Congress’ convention to announce a chief ministerial face in advance, and a decision on it will be taken after the Assam polls, the party’s state unit chief Ripun Bora said on Monday and exuded confidence that the alliance forged to take on the ruling BJP will win over 101 of the 126 seats.

Slamming the BJP for its criticism of his party’s alliance with the AIUDF for the upcoming state polls, Bora said the AIUDF chief, Badruddin Ajmal, is not anti-Hindu and the BJP, which accuses him of being communal, had in fact joined hands with his party to run three district councils in the state.

The Badruddin Ajmal-led outfit is not communal and cannot be regarded as “untouchable”, he said.

Bora also said that “winds of change” were blowing in Assam and expressed confidence that the Congress, along with its allies All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) and Anchalik Gana Morcha, will win over 101 out of the 126 Assembly seats in the polls likely in March-April.

In an interview with PTI, Bora said it was not the Congress’ convention to announce a chief ministerial face in advance and the party will decide on who would be the chief minister only after the elections.

“It is a party of internal democracy. So the party will decide who will be chief minister only after elections, that is the democratic way. It is not only the case with Assam but in other states also the party has followed this,” he asserted.

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee chief lashed out at the BJP for attacking the Congress over its alliance with the AIUDF, saying while the BJP had in the past aligned with the “anti-national” PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, it was questioning the Congress’ tie-up with the AIUDF.

“Ajmal is not anti-Hindu, but talks only about the welfare of Muslims. Talking about the welfare of Muslims or the people of his own religion is not a crime unless he hates the people of other religions. Ajmal has never been anti-Hindu,” he said.

AIUDF is considered to have a large base among Assam’s about 35-per cent Muslim population.

Bora, a frontrunner for the chief minister’s post if the Congress-led alliance is voted to power, said the BJP has been saying the Congress has joined hands with AIUDF, but the fact is that the saffron party had entered into a pact with Ajmal’s party to capture power in district councils of Darrang, Karimganj and Nagaon.

“The BJP has no moral right to lecture us on politics,” he said.

Bora claimed that the BJP is “more communal” than any other party as it had formed a government in Jammu and Kashmir along with “anti-India forces” like the PDP, which “does not accept the Indian constitution and Indian flag”.

The BJP is focused on communalisation, but for Assam’s people, the main issue is to save the state because of the way the BJP and the RSS have attacked the identity, culture and heritage of Assam by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Bora said.

The CAA is going to destroy Assam’s social fabric, it will divide people and create communal disturbance as well as conflict between different castes, communities and religions, he alleged, adding that the CAA will serve no purpose for the people.

“The CAA will bring threat to the language and to the existence of the culture of the people of Assam. Therefore, even though the BJP has declared that after elections they are going to implement the CAA, but we in the Congress have said that after election if our party comes to power, we will not allow implementation of the CAA in Assam,” Bora said.

On Sunday at a rally here, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had said his party will protect every principle of the Assam Accord and will not let the CAA be implemented if voted to power in the polls.

Bora also hit out at the BJP over the issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam, saying it has been a long standing demand of Assam but the BJP has stopped the NRC after final publication.

The Congress’ stand is clear that the NRC, the final list which has come out with 3.11 crore people of Assam, should be accepted, Bora said.

“Secondly, side by side we have said that 19 lakh names which are not there, all of them are not foreigners, most of them are Indians, we have demanded that those people as per the rule of NRC should be given an opportunity of appealing before court so that they can prove themselves as Indian citizens,” he said.

Asked about the number of assembly seats the Congress will contest, Bora said of the 126, the party would field candidates in around 90 and the remaining 36 would be given to allies.

He, however, said seat-sharing talks are yet to be concluded as there are “surprising demands” from partners.

Bora also said the alliance will “very soon” come out with an appeal to the people elaborating the issues for which the six parties have come on a common platform and added that the CPI(M) has some reservations about calling it a ‘common minimum programme’.

On Congress’ chances in the polls, he said “winds of change are blowing” in the state and there is a “tremendous undercurrent” in favour of the party and its allies.

“People are scared of coming out openly (against the BJP) as they are being threatened and blackmailed that if you go with the Congress you will not get benefits,” he alleged.

Bora said the people are feeling a “sense of betrayal”, realising that the ruling party has only been making “false promises”.

“In Assam, the BJP made so many tall claims. The BJP said there are 25 lakh unemployed youth and they will all be absorbed within six months of it forming government, they said not a single Bangladeshi foreigner in Assam will be left, they said 1 lakh crore will be allotted for expressway on both sides of Brahmaputra, 1 ‘tola’ of gold will be given to girls, but nothing has happened,” he said.

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