The pre-poll understanding between the Congress and the AIUDF has been common knowledge for some time now. Badruddin Ajmal had stated recently that his party will contest elections from only 3 seats in Assam to prevent ‘division of secular votes’ in the elections.
The State Congress, for its part, has maintained that there wasn’t any understanding as such although every indicator pointed towards a different conclusion. Now, reports have emerged of rifts within Assam Congress after a section of the unit opposed attempts to reach an understanding with Ajmal’s party.
A senior party leader is reported to have said that despite a resolution passed by the APCC opposing any alliance, a certain section of leaders had already started negotiations with the AIUDF. Ajmal has reportedly roped in Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind president Mehmood Madani to persuade the AICC to nominate candidates of Ajmal’s choice. But the proposal was reportedly rejected.
As a consequence of the rift, the announcement of candidates for four constituencies was delayed as the APCC postponed the scheduled meeting of the party election committee. Even former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi, once a fierce critic of Ajmal, has gone silent to ensure his son Gaurav Gogoi’s victory from Kaliabor constituency, which has a considerable Muslim population.
Reports say that state Congress president Ripun Bora and leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia were summoned to Delhi to take part in a meeting to select Congress candidates for Dhubri, Barpeta, Kokrajhar, and Guwahati.
Saikia’s camp has been alleging that despite APCC resolution not to associate with Ajmal, a section has been negotiating with Ajmal and hence a ‘lightweight’ candidate, Abdul Rezzak has been nominated from Dhubri, to help Ajmal retain his MP seat.
Badruddin Ajmal has also been reportedly trying to get the Congress leaders to nominate another lightweight candidate in Barpeta.
Yesterday, addressing a press conference, APCC President Ripun Bora had said, “The Congress party is a secular party and will never make any alliance either open or secret with a communal party like AIUDF.”
It appears that despite opposition from the State Congress, a decision has already been made by the higher-ups to reach a pre-poll understanding with Ajmal ahead of the General Elections.