GUWAHATI: There is apprehension in the Assam electorate that a Bengali-speaking Muslim may become chief minister. The warming together of the state’s ruling Congress and principal Opposition, AIUDF, has strengthened this anxiety.
The minority-based AIUDF wants an alliance with Congress and other “secular” parties to keep BJP at bay. BJP claims Congress has struck a deal with AIUDF to “make Assam a part of Bangladesh”.
“We’ll huddle together with Congress if they are willing to broaden their mind. If we want to rid Assam of BJP, it is imperative that we become broad-minded like Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav,” AIUDF chief and Lok Sabha member Maulana Badruddin Ajmal said. BJP and expelled AIUDF leader Ataur Rahman Mazhar Bhuyan claim that Congress and BJP have joined ranks.
This is in contrast to AIUDF’s earlier stand that it would not forge any pre-poll ties with Congress as it would lead to polarisation of Hindu votes, who make up more than 60 per cent of voters in the state.
“CM Tarun Gogoi has struck a deal with AIUDF, proposing deputy chief ministership to Ajmal if Congress retains power. Gogoi had once asked, ‘who is Badruddin?’. Now he has teamed up with the AIUDF chief and launched a nasty campaign against BJP to keep it out of power. They want to make Assam a part of Bangladesh,” BJP state president and Union Minister for Sports Sarbananda Sonowal said. Last month, Ajmal and Gogoi met twice at the chief minister’s official residence in Guwahati. Within days, they met again at the Nitish Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony, where they reportedly finalised their alliance in the presence of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
“AIUDF was floated after the repeal of Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act in 2005 primarily to protect illegal Bangladeshis. Congress for years has been protecting the migrants for votes. It is not unusual that they are coming closer to each other,” All Assam Students’ Union general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi told The Sunday Standard.
Bengali-Muslims, whose citizenship is increasingly being questioned, view AIUDF as their messiah.