Days after a state Congress delegation submitted a report before the AICC in Delhi informing it of its decision to break free from the alliance with Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front, Singh made the decision of the high command public through the media.
Assam PCC president Bhupen Borah told TOI from Delhi on Monday that an official announcement of the break-up and a possible new partner for the alliance will be made once the dates for the elections are declared.
“Whatever the state Congress leadership has decided is going to be the final decision of the AICC. It will respect the opinion of the Assam PCC and approve its strategy to win the upcoming byelections in Assam,” Singh told media persons in New Delhi.
While AIUDF supremo Ajmal said they are no more in alliance with the Congress, he categorically pointed out that ‘both parties will benefit from the split’. BJP has termed the split as being spurious. “The upcoming byelections are in constituencies where the minority vote is hardly a factor. And so the BJP will be with the indigenous tribes and communities, who do not side with Ajmal’s party,” a BJP leader said.
Speculations are doing the rounds that any one of the two new regional parties, the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) or the Raijor Dal (RD), or a combination of both may slip into the place of the AIUDF in the Congress-led alliance. The Congress, however, sources say, is more favourably disposed towards the AJP, headed by former All Assam Students’ Union general secretary, Lurinjyoti Gogoi. Borah, in fact, said that RD president Akhil Gogoi was trying to disrupt the progress of the talks with AJP with his bargaining with the Congress.
Akhil met Rahul Gandhi recently and claimed that the latter is in favour of having Akhil’s party on board. “Rahul Gandhi said he will instruct the AICC general secretaries Jitendra Singh and Mukul Wasnik to discuss the strategies with me,” Akhil had then told TOI.
But senior Congress leaders like Pradyut Bordoloi and Sarat Barkatoky have claimed that Akhil cannot be trusted as he keeps changing his colours. At a news conference here on Monday, Nagaon MP Bordoloi said, “There is no point in giving importance to Akhil. If he says something in the morning, he changes it at night.”
The Congress blamed Akhil for spoiling the music in the run-up to the byelections when the two parties were nearing some kind of an understanding by accusing their MPs, Gaurav Gogoi and Pradyut Bordoloi, of blocking the Congress-RD alliance to ensure the defeat of the Congress.
Sources in the RD said that some Congress leaders do not want to ally with Akhil fearing an identity crisis for the grand old party. The AJP and RD could not do well in the last election and the Congress had maintained that both the parties had ruined their prospects in many seats in upper and northern Assam by splitting anti-BJP votes.
Nevertheless, the AJP is now inching closer to the Congress. Lurinjyoti has said discussions with the Congress are in an advanced stage. “There are positive indications and we are eagerly waiting for a seat-sharing agreement with the Congress to defeat our common enemy, the BJP. There should be one consensus candidate from anti-BJP parties in the upcoming by-election,” said Lurinjyoti.
Besides Gossaigaon, Tamulpur, and Bhabanipur assembly segments in lower Assam, by-election is due in three upper Assam seats, Thowra, Majuli and Mariani. Congress sources said at least one or two seats out of the three in upper Assam may go to the regional allies, if a poll pact is finalized.