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Gogoi blocks AUDF tie-up
- Congress mulls break-up strategies
Badruddin Ajmal

Guwahati, Oct. 19: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has opposed the possible alliance between the Congress and the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections and decided to do everything to break up the minority party instead.

Gogoi, sources said, has let loose his “hit squad” on the AUDF to cause cracks.

Backed by the chief minister, the minority cell of the party is planning a massive convention at Goalpara to parade around 2,000 AUDF leaders and workers who were to join the Congress at the end of this month. But the convention had to be put on hold following orders from the party’s central leadership.

The AICC in-charge of Assam, Veerappa Moily, had appealed to AUDF president Badruddin Ajmal to bury the hatchet and revive his old ties with the Congress.

AUDF sources, too, admitted receiving feelers from the Congress for a patch-up.

An influential section of Congress leaders, however, has been vehemently opposing any move to win over Ajmal. It said the Congress has engineered several defections in the AUDF and that it would be wise to marginalise Ajmal rather than seek his help.

“The AUDF is a divided house. In another few months Ajmal will have been left alone in the party with a handful of relatives and friends to give him company if we are allowed to go ahead with our mission to break up the party,” said a minority leader of the Congress, known for his proximity to the chief minister.

He said unless Ajmal decided to dismantle his party and join the Congress without any condition, the party should not open its door for him.

“We must ensure that he does not get an opportunity to revive his sagging political career by joining hands with the Congress,” a leader said.

The Congress central leadership and a majority of parliamentarians are not convinced about Ajmal’s “marginalisation”. They are apprehensive that he could upset the Congress’s electoral prospects by cutting into the party’s minority votes.

Much to the dislike of the chief minister, Lok Sabha MP from Guwahati, Kirip Chaliha, even had a closed-door meeting with Ajmal recently.

Amid differences within the Congress over its future ties with the AUDF, Ajmal last evening had a marathon meeting with AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary.

The AGP is eyeing a tie-up with the AUDF. However, party sources said it might be difficult given that the regional party has already committed to forge an alliance with the BJP for the next Lok Sabha elections.

“It is, therefore, highly unlikely that the AUDF will come with us,” an AGP leader said, adding that even the BJP would not appreciate such an idea.

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