Assam’s Opposition alliance is picking up pace and strength as it prepares for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, described by one of its 15 constituents as the “most crucial and sensitive election in the country”.
At its “first” general election-specific meeting held in Guwahati on Thursday, the Opposition alliance — christened as United Opposition Forum, Assam — decided that there would be one joint Opposition candidate against the ruling alliance candidate in each of the 14 seats in the state.
Currently, the BJP holds nine Lok Sabha seats, while the Congress holds three, and the AIUDF and an Independent hold one seat each.
The meeting also decided to have a common minimum programme (CMP) drafted by Assam Trinamul chief Ripun Bora and a “chargesheet” against the incumbent state government drafted by Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan and Rakibul Hussain, deputy Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader in the Assembly.
On Friday evening, the alliance met again in Guwahati to discuss the upcoming Assam leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. All the alliance leaders took part in the meeting.
The alliance, which started taking shape soon after the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as MP in March, also grew in strength with three new parties — Forward Bloc, Shiv Sena (UT) and the All Party Hill Leaders Conference (APHLC) — deciding to join the existing 12-party bloc.
The parties include the Congress, CPI, CPM, Raijor Dal, Assam Jatiya Parishad, Jatiya Dal (Asom), NCP, AAP, Trinamul Congress, JDU, RJD and CPI (ML).
“This was our sixth meeting but the first devoted to the LS polls. Both the CMP and the chargesheet will be discussed in the upcoming session of the Opposition alliance to be held in Dibrugarh by November end. We are picking up pace and growing in strength,” Bhupen Kumar Borah, Assam PCC president, told The Telegraph on Friday. He is also the president of the Opposition alliance.
“We (the parties) unanimously resolved to end the misgovernance of the
anti-public BJP government. All Opposition parties once again reiterated to ensure one united candidate in each constituency against the BJP to ensure there is no vote division in Lok Sabha (2024) and Assembly elections (2026),” he said, adding each party was ready to make the “supreme personal and political sacrifice”.
He cited the example set by Raijor Dal which released a statement soon after Thursday’s meeting that they were not going to demand a single seat for itself in the Lok Sabha polls.
Raijor Dal president and MLA Akhil Gogoi said in a statement that the 2024 polls would be the “most crucial and sensitive election in the political history of the country” that will “decide the fate” of the democracy, the Constitution, and the federal structure of the country.
“If the BJP succeeds to form the government in 2024 again, there is immense possibility that the country would be transformed into a dictatorial and religious fundamentalist state....,” Gogoi said.
However, it will take a lot of doing to pose a challenge to a well-entrenched BJP and its allies. They have been in power since 2016.
The Congress had led a grand alliance that included the AIUDF and most parties
in the existing group barring the Raijor Dal and Assam Jatiya Parishad but could manage only 50 of the 126 seats in the 2021 Assembly elections.
Of the 15 Opposition parties, only Congress, 27, CPM, 1, and Raijor Dal, 1, have members in the current state Assembly but the Opposition believes if it can keep its vote intact, it can challenge the BJP-led alliance.