Congress to cut ties with Ajmal, join hands with Gogoi?

Congress may snap ties with Ajmal's AIUDF to join hands with Akhil Gogoi's party for Assam bypolls

Party insiders say the 'alliance with Ajmal' was responsible for its 'dismal show' in eastern and North Assam

Akhil on Tuesday said his party would not join hands with Congress as long as AIUDF is with them as they consider both BJP and Ajmal's party as communal. Credit: DH, PTI File Photos

The Opposition Congress in Assam is likely to end its ties with Badruddin Ajmal's AIUDF and may fight the ensuing by-polls in five Assembly seats jointly with Akhil Gogoi's party, Raijor Dal.

Although the new president of Congress' Assam unit, Bhupen Borah is yet to take a final call, many leaders within the party are against continuing the ties with Ajmal's party citing the "lessons" learnt in the Assembly elections held in March-April. 

Congress, AIUDF, Bodoland People's Front (BPF), three left parties and a new regional party had stitched a "grand alliance" and fought the Assembly elections together. But the party's dismal performance in eastern Assam constituencies and in the tea belt in North Assam left party workers angry.

Many said the voters in eastern Assam and in North Assam (47 of 126 seats), where indigenous Assamese and the tea garden votes are deciding factors voted against Congress as BJP projected Ajmal as a "protector of the Bangladeshis" and a threat to Assamese identity.  

Congress' tally in the 2021 Assembly polls increased to 29, from 26 in 2016. But party insiders say the "alliance with Ajmal" was responsible for its "dismal show" in eastern and North Assam (Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Jorhat, Sivasagar, Golaghat, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Majuli, Biswanath and Sonitpur districts). Congress' vote share also decreased to 29.70 per cent from 30.96 per cent in 2016.

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The AIUDF increased its tally from 13 in 2016 to 16 in 2021. 

BJP won 60 seats while its allies Asom Gana Parishad and UPPL bagged nine and six seats respectively. The ruling alliance retained power with 75 seats. 

Five Assembly seats, however, fell vacant after Sarbananda Sonowal was made a Union minister, two Congress MLAs switched over to BJP and two others, one each from BPF and UPPL died due to Covid-19 related issues. Rupjyoti Kurmi (a tea community leader), a four-time MLA from Mariani, and Sushanta Borgohain (Ahom leader), a two-time MLA from Thowra in eastern Assam also resigned from Congress last month.

"As for bye-elections no decision has been taken yet. We have formed five committees with a chairman for the LACs going to polls and once we get the ground report, a decision will be taken as to whether we will fight alone in all the constituencies or not," Congress spokesperson Bobbeeta Sharma told DH on Tuesday. 

Three newly appointed working presidents of Congress, however, met leaders of Akhil Gogoi's party, Raijor Dal recently and held a discussion about possible a tie-up for the bypolls. 

Akhil on Tuesday said his party would not join hands with Congress as long as AIUDF is with them as they consider both BJP and Ajmal's party as communal.