Congress runs for cover in Assam after new ally AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal sparks a row
- The Assam Congress will speak to its alliance partners to ensure that "such utterances are not made by any of our partners in future, the state unit chief said after AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal's controversial statement
The Assam Congress ran for cover on Thursday after its freshly-minted ally in Assam, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) president Badruddin Ajmal, with provocative statements that are seen as an attempt to polarise the assembly elections expected to be held in April-May.
Badruddin Ajmal, also a Lok Sabha MP from Assam’s Dhubri seat, described the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at a public meeting as an enemy of the country and women. “The BJP has a list of 3,500 mosques in the country. If it comes to power again at Centre again, they will demolish all those mosques,” he claimed at an election meeting on Wednesday in Dhubri district’s Gauripur.
Ajmal targeted the ruling BJP in the state as well and claimed that if the BJP wins the Assam elections again, “they will not let women go out wearing ‘burqa’, grow a beard, wear a skullcap or even offer ‘azaan’ at mosques”. Will you be able to live in such a way?” he questioned those gathered at the rally.
The BJP has been in power at the Centre since 2014. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance came to power in Assam two years later.
Ajmal’s party, which was formed in 2005, has a strong base among Muslim settlers from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). It has 14 seats in the 126-member Assam assembly.
The BJP brushed aside Badruddin Ajmal’s claims, underlining that this was a clear attempt to polarise the elections.
“The comments show his nervousness as he is aware that BJP will get a majority share of Muslim votes in Assam this time. Ajmal is trying to polarize the votes by making such communal statements. But the voters in Assam are sensible and can see through such statements,” said BJP spokesperson Roopam Goswami.
But the Congress, which, along with five other parties, had signed up with Badruddin Ajmal to form a six-party pre-poll alliance, was embarrassed. The other four partners in this alliance are the three Left parties - CPI, CPI-M and CPI-ML - and the newly-formed Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM) led by journalist-turned-politician and Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan.
“Congress will never say such things. I have heard what he said at the election rally on Wednesday,” Assam Congress president Ripun Bora said, visibly uncomfortable at questions over his new alliance partner’s controversial election pitch.
“Since he is part of our alliance now, we will ask Ajmal about it and ensure that such utterances are not made by any of our partners in future,” Bora said on Thursday.
Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, Rajya Sabha MP and president of AGM, condemned Ajmal’s remarks and called them “communal as well as harmful to society”.
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- Election to 126 assembly seats in Assam will be held in three phases. The first phase of polling would be on March 27 for 47 seats, second on April 1 for 39 seats, and third on April 6 for 40 seats. Counting of votes will take place on May 2.
- He also said that it was the BJP-led government, which ensured that Assam becomes corruption free and free of undocumented migrants.