Rift in Cong over ‘ties’ with AIUDF

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With barely two weeks are there for the first phase of Lok Sabha polling to begin, there is the serious difference within Assam’s Congress over party’s secret understanding with the AIUDF.

As a result, the ticket announcement of the remaining four constituencies got delayed as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Wednesday postponed the scheduled meeting of the party election committee to Thursday.

Both State president Ripun Bora and State Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia are being summoned to Delhi to take part in a party poll panel meeting to select the candidates for four parliamentary constituencies of lower Assam – Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Barpeta and Guwahati.

According to Saikia camp, despite a resolution passed by the APCC opposing any alliance with the AIUDF, a section has started negotiations with Ajmal. At the centre of the controversy are the two constituencies of Dhubri and Barpeta that were last won by the AIUDF.

The AIUDF boss has in fact roped in Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind president Mehmood Madani to persuade the AICC to nominate candidates of Ajmal’s choice. But that was shot down by the Congress’s State leadership.

Sources close to Harish Rawat, AICC general secretary in-charge for Assam, also confirmed that there will be no alliance with the AIUDF. But a section of the Congress, led by Party President Ripun Bora has come to an understanding to nominate a political lightweight Abdul Rezzak to help Badruddin Ajmal retain his Dhubri seat. Ajmal is also after the Congress leadership to nominate a weak candidate in the Barpeta constituency.

This has not gone down well for the leader of the opposition Debabrata Saikia, who is from the Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency and he can see the ray of hope of wrestling that seat from Congress. However, AIUDF connection has not gone down well as BJP has been using this to corner Congress in Upper Assam.

The AIUDF is contesting in only three Lok Sabha seats in the State – Dhubri, Barpeta and Karimganj.

This means Congress will benefit in Nagaon, Kaliabor, Mangaldoi and other minority-dominated constituencies, by preventing split in the Muslim votes.

Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is maintaining a safe distance. He was once fierce critic of Ajmal but to ensure his son’s win from Koliabor constituency, he is now silent. Same is the case with the neighbouring Nagaon seat from where Pradyut Bordoloi is contesting.

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