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"BJP seeks to reduce Muslim votes in Assam through delimitation," says AIUDF's Badruddin Ajmal; Congress miffed as well

During the Assembly elections, BJP has targeted the AIUDF by trying to brand it as 'a party of the illegal migrant from Bangladeshis.'
Last Updated : 21 June 2023, 16:33 IST

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The Election Commission's draft proposal for delimitation exercise in Assam drew strong reactions from Opposition parties in the state with AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal on Wednesday stating that the ruling BJP seeks to reduce share of Muslim votes in both Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies through the exercise.

"This is a conspiracy of the BJP to remove AIUDF from Assam politics. This is being intentionally done. This is being done with a target to reduce the share of Muslim votes as much as they can. According to us, there was no need for such an exercise now only in Assam as delimitation would be carried out in the entire country after 2026," Ajmal told television channels in Guwahati on Wednesday.

"The intention is bad. This is being done as per plan of the BJP and to fulfill BJP's intention," Ajmal, who is AIUDF's only Lok Sabha member from Dhurbi, said.

The reaction comes a day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) released a draft proposal in which it sought to reserve three more Assembly seats for the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and one more for the Scheduled Castes (SCs). The ECI said the same would be done only by redrawing the boundaries of the constituencies and keeping the number of the Assembly seats (126) and the Lok Sabha constituencies (14) intact.

Ajmal alleged that the draft proposal was prepared on the instructions of Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma in order to "remove AIUDF from Assam politics." "This will do a lot of harm to us (AIUDF). This will help the Congress in at least 10 to 12 Assembly seats. They want the politics in Assam to be a fight just between Congress and BJP," Ajmal said, adding that the party is planning legal recourse to oppose the exercise.

The AIUDF, which entered electoral politics in Assam in 2005 with Muslims as their primary votebank, at present has 15 MLAs while Ajmal is the only Lok Sabha member from Dhubri.

During the Assembly elections, BJP has targeted the AIUDF by trying to brand it as "a party of the illegal migrant from Bangladeshis." The saffron party, on the other hand, projected itself as a party championing the causes of the indigenous people and to protect their identity against the threats posed by Ajmal and the illegal migrants.

CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, a few months ago, had said that the delimitation would do what NRC could not achieve, without elaborating on the same.

The last delimitation exercise in Assam was carried out in 1976. A new delimitation exercise was supposed to be carried out in 2007, but was postponed due to law and order issues. The ECI, however, resumed the process for the exercise in December last year after being asked by the government.

A team of the ECI headed by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar visited Assam between March 26 and 28 and held discussions with 11 political parties and 71 other organisations before releasing the draft proposal. The Opposition Congress, however, boycotted the meeting with the ECI despite invitations.

On Wednesday, senior Congress MLA and leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Debabrata Saikia said the draft proposal was prepared at the dictation of BJP.

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Published 21 June 2023, 15:51 IST

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