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Congress drops AIUDF after Rajya Sabha polls setback

Results saw ruling alliance’s Pabitra Margherita (BJP) and Rwngwra Narzary of UPPL win both the seats by bagging 46 and 44 votes, respectively
Ripun Bora.
Ripun Bora.
File photo

Umanand Jaiswal   |   Guwahati   |   Published 02.04.22, 12:08 AM

The Assam Congress on Friday asserted it would have “no political truck” with the AIUDF, a move triggered by the loss of the joint Opposition candidate — the Congress’s Ripun Bora — in the Rajya Sabha polls held on Thursday.

Former PCC president Bora, seeking a second straight term in the Upper House, could manage only 35 votes despite claiming the support of 43 MLAs in a House of 126, the defeat leaving the party without any representation from Assam in the Upper House for the first time. The Congress suspended one of its senior MLAs — Siddique Ahmed — for allegedly wasting his vote, a charge the MLA has contested.

The poll results declared on Thursday night saw the ruling alliance’s Pabitra Margherita (BJP) and Rwngwra Narzary of the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) win both the seats by bagging 46 and 44 votes, respectively.

The Opposition Congress and the AIUDF in Assam had been trading charges against each other for the past few days, with both parties displaying utter lack of trust in each other.

Amid charges and counter-charges of cross-voting between Congress and the AIUDF, Assam PCC president Bhupen Kumar Borah told The Telegraph: “We came to know about the true colours of the AIUDF after putting up the joint candidate for the sake of Opposition unity. The AIUDF had supported the candidature of Ripun Bora but favoured the ruling alliance. Henceforth, we will have no political truck with the AIUDF in the future.”

Borah added: “Instead of having any political association with the AIUDF, we will strengthen our bases in the 15 Assembly constituencies they represent. Protests will be held in these constituencies against their role in the Rajya Sabha polls. We will also identify future leaders and tour these constituencies and expose their nexus with the ruling BJP.”

Besides protests and rebuilding the party units, the Congress is planning to move the Election Commission or the court to know who voted for whom, seek an NIA probe into the foundation run by AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal and to find out why the state government is promoting agar trade, a move Congress alleges “exposes” the BJP and the AIUDF nexus since Ajmal is a leading perfume baron.

In December 2000, the Guwahati police had registered a case against the Ajmal Foundation for allegedly receiving foreign funds linked to terror groups. Ajmal has rejected the allegation levelled just months ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls, which was won by the BJP-led alliance.

On Friday, block and Youth Congress members at Sonai in Barak Valley staged a protest against the AIUDF. Sonai Youth Congress leader Ijaj Hussain Laskar said they burnt the effigies of Ajmal, Sonai AIUDF MLA K. Barbhuyan and Siddique Ahmed.

Congress insiders said th­ey were happy with the party’s st­and against the AIUDF beca­u­se they “will always lose” if th­ey ally with the AIUDF as was evident from the party’s “near wipe-out” in Upper Ass­am in last year’s Assembly polls.

BJP (63), UPPL (7), AGP ((9) and BPF (3) had 83 MLAs, including the open support of a suspended Congress MLA, enough to win one seat but short by three short to pull off the second seat. The Opposition alliance had 43 seats, including Congress (26), AIUDF (15), CPM and Raijor Dal one each.

AIUDF general secretary and MLA Aminul Islam told this newspaper that the Congress should look for the “betrayers” in its rank. “Both Congress and the BJP are targeting us. All our 15 MLAs voted for Congress candidate Ripun Bora. Since they could not control their MLAs, they are blaming us... maligning us,” he said.

First-time MLA Islam also said both the BJP and Congress did not want Bora to win. “A section in Congress did not want him to win because he would only emerge stronger with a second straight term while the BJP did not want him because he was secular and takes everyone along with him. It was a big game but we are being blamed,” Islam said.

The AIUDF on Friday moved a privilege motion in the Assembly against Congress member Monjit Mahanta who has accused five of our MLAs of meeting the CM at 6am on Friday. “This is not true. The privilege motion has been passed and the truth will be out soon. The Congress should put its house in order before it is too late,” he said.

The BJP had made it clear from the beginning that they don’t want the vote of the AIUDF because of ideological reasons but were confident few Congress MLAs would vote for the ruling alliance “impressed” with the government’s development agenda.

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