GUWAHATI: As Congress and minority-based All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in Assam inch closer to stitch an alliance ahead of Assembly elections due early next year, the latter has made it clear that its president and Lok Sabha member Maulana Badruddin Ajmal was not in the race for the chief minister’s post.
“The AIUDF has decided that it will neither project nor bargain for the CM’s chair for Badruddin Ajmal. In fact, Ajmal will never become the Assam CM,” AIUDF general secretary and MLA Mamun Imdadul Haque Choudhury told journalists.
“We had to say this as ahead of every election, our opponents use Ajmal’s name as a bogey to polarize voters on religious lines. They tell people that if they vote for the AIUDF, he will become the CM,” Choudhury said.
He said the rivals adopted a similar strategy now after it dawned on them that the Congress-AIUDF combine stood a good chance of doing well in the polls. The AIUDF views Congress as its big brother. So, it is obvious that someone from the Congress will be the CM candidate, Choudhury said.
Ajmal, also a perfume baron, has been leading the AIUDF as its president ever since its formation in 2005. Many in Assam view the AIUDF as a party that was floated solely to protect the interests of “Bangladeshis”. Ajmal is seen as their messiah.
The Congress-AIUDF tie-up is more or less final except for the formal announcement. However, the bonhomie has not gone down well. There have been voices of dissent from a section of Congress leaders. They felt the alliance will harm the Congress in Upper Assam where a strong sentiment of Assamese nationalism works. This is the reason why Congress never had an alliance with the AIUDF in the past.
As the Ajmal factor could harm the Congress’ poll prospects in the majority Hindu belt, the grand old party has already made it clear that the AIUDF chief would not be in the race for CM post if the coalition ends up forming the next government.
The BJP, together with allies Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front, had ended the 15-year Congress rule in 2016. After winning in Assam, the BJP went on to capture power in Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.