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Gogoi banks on Muslim votes

- Assam CM says Congress will do better than 2009 polls

Guwahati, April 18: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today asserted that Muslim votes for the Congress would be higher than what it was during the 2009 elections.

“AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal, who tries to claim he is the messiah of Muslims in Assam, is in danger this time and unsure about Muslim votes for his party. Muslims have not benefited at all from the AIUDF. I am confident that their votes, which went to the AIUDF in 2009, will return to the Congress this time,” Gogoi told the reporters at a city hotel here this afternoon.

Muslim voters constitute more than 35 per cent of the electorate in Assam and are thus considered as a deciding factor in victory or defeat of candidates in six of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies. Muslim-dominated constituencies are Dhubri, Barpeta, Nowgong, Kaliabor, Karimganj and Silchar.

In these constituencies, the Congress was the only party which used to call the shots till 2005. In September that year, the then Assam unit president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal founded the AIUDF. After the emergence of the AIUDF, the Congress lost its edge in Muslim-dominated areas of lower Assam as well as Barak valley.

The AIUDF won 10 out of the 126 Assembly seats in Assam in its maiden elections fought in 2006. The party won one seat from Dhubri in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and came second in terms of vote percentage in many other constituencies in the same. Ajmal said his party would win more seats this time than in the previous Lok Sabha election.

Gogoi said Muslims in the state have understood the “tall talk” of Ajmal and thus are fed up with the AIUDF. He said the Congress would win more than 10 seats this time. In 2009, the Congress won seven seats.

On the other hand, in an election rally in Rangiya in lower Assam this evening, Gogoi said there was no difference between Narendra Modi and Badruddin Ajmal. “Both the leaders are shedding crocodile tears for two particular communities to garner votes,” he said.

Gogoi’s assertion on Muslim votes came a day ahead of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visiting Assam to address election rallies in different places for the polls scheduled to be held on April 24.

Sources in Assam said since Dhubri, Barpeta and Nowgong, which will go to polls on April 24, are Muslim-dominated, Gogoi’s assertion would enthuse the Congress voters.