Assam: Badruddin Ajmal for Third Front of secular parties

Guwahati, May 10: Widely perceived as a possible 'kingmaker' in case of a hung verdict in the Assam elections, AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal favours a secular front of parties comprising Congress, AGP, BPF and his own with a few others to prevent BJP from forming the next government.

He even goes on to suggest that Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, whose party AGP is in alliance with BJP, be the next chief minister.

AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal

"All these parties must come together to form the Third Front Alliance as this is the only way to keep the communal BJP out of power and save Assam and its people," Ajmal told PTI in an interview.

He claims his party is expected to win over 30 seats and will have a major say in the formation of the next government.

Claiming to be the 'kingmaker' in the next government, Ajmal said, "Without us, no party can form the government in the state. It is the party we support that can form the government and AIUDF's importance cannot be denied."

Asked whether he aspires to be the next chief minister of the state, he said, "I am not dreaming to be the chief minister. My ideal choice for the post is former two-time AGP Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

"The ideal chief ministerial candidate of the alliance will be Mahanta as we have worked with him for 10 years. He is the right choice. We have good experience with him and he had given adequate representation to the minority community."

Referring to AGP-BPF pre-poll alliance with BJP, the Dhubri MP said, "As per my knowledge, AGP has a covert understanding with Congress and an overt alliance with BJP which I think is due to financial reasons.

"AGP will be the maximum gainer in this election. If they had fought the elections on their own, they would not have got more than five or six seats but with BJP's financial support, they are expected to win 10 to 12 seats."

AIUDF, the largest Opposition party with 18 seats in the outgoing assembly, has formed an alliance with JD(U) and RJD although these two parties do not have any significant presence in the state. AIUDF also invited Congress and AGP into the alliance in its attempt to create a "mahagathbandhan" on the lines of Bihar elections to defeat BJP, but it did not succeed.

According to Ajmal, BPF leader Hagrama Mohilary has time and again said he will go with whichever party forms the government in Assam. He also expressed confidence that Congress with the intervention of the party's central leadership will also join the Third Front and bring its ally United Peoples' Party (UPP) within the alliance. Result of the election to the 126-member Assam Assembly will be declared on May 19.

Asked about Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi dismissing the idea of a Third Front government in Assam with Congress as a constituent, Ajmal said he was confident the "party High Command will intervene as it stands to gain a lot from this".

"The Congress has no chance of coming to power in any of the states where elections are being held but in Assam it can be a part of the government, if the Third Front comes to power. Therefore, we are sure their Delhi leadership will intervene to ensure it becomes an alliance partner," he said.

Ajmal was, however, critical of the last 15 years of Congress rule under Gogoi alleging that not much development had taken place leading to Assam lagging far behind other states.

"The major problem of flood and erosion has not been tackled while there has not been much progress in the industrial sector and road and connectivity. Even the law order situation is far from satisfactory though the Chief Minister himself holds the Home portfolio," he adds.

"There should, however, be no ego clash and all secular parties should come to an understanding to stop the BJP from coming to power in the greater interest of Assam," he says.

Asked whether such an alliance can give a stable government, Ajmal says, "All the constituent partners have to make some sacrifices and keep aside their ego in the greater interest of secularism and Assam."

On whether the AIUDF will be a part of the ministry, he said it will be decided by the party's core committee only after the results are announced on May 19. Asked about Congress allegations that AIUDF has a secret understanding with BJP and had put up candidates in certain seats where they had no chances of winning, Ajmal says his party will never go with BJP as they have basic ideological differences.

"Our ideological differences are like East and West and they indulge in anti-Muslim activities which we cannot support at any cost."

"In no way shall we support the BJP. Look at Kashmir where Peoples Democratic Party has an alliance with BJP. When Mufti Mohammed Sayeed died only 2,000 people attended his funeral whereas at least two lakh people should have attended a chief minister's last rites. If we have an alliance with the BJP, our party AIUDF will be finished in five years," he claims.

On AIUDF's role if BJP along with its pre-poll allies come to power, Ajmal says, "We will play the role of the good opposition."

He, however, says the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance is a "very temporary" partnership and will not last too long. "They will not be able to complete the full term in office. All parties in the alliance are disparate with not much in common."


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