Assam polls: Congress, AGP vie for AUDF support

Sunday, December 26, 2010

GUWAHATI - The Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), a party espousing the causes of minorities in Assam, has become the cynosure of all eyes with both the ruling Congress and the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) trying to forge an alliance with it ahead of next year’s assembly elections.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, known to be among the bitterest of critics of the AUDF, is now dangling an olive branch by openly talking about an electoral understanding.

We have no problems in having an understanding with the AUDF and if required we can leave a few seats to them during the polls, he said.

The AUDF won 11 seats in the 2006 assembly elections - the first time the party contested any polls in Assam.

The AUDF is led by perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal, now a Lok Sabha MP.

So far we have not decided on any alliance and would like to fight the polls alone, Ajmal told IANS.

Even as the Congress was keen to partner with the AUDF, the AGP was also desperate to work out an understanding with the minority based party. AGPs desperation comes after the party severed ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier this year.

Former chief minister and senior AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta in the past few weeks met Ajmal at least twice at his residence.

We are friends and we didnt discuss politics, Mahanta said, trying to brush aside speculations about an AGP-AUDF alliance.

The political equations in Assam are bound to change as elections draw nearer.

The BJP in all probability would go alone in the elections with no other tangible options for a tie up with any party, while the AGP has the option of going with the AUDF.

The Congress, on the other hand, has an alliance with the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) since the 2006 assembly polls. The BPF has 10 lawmakers in the 126 member house.

Doors for any secular political parties are open for the Congress, Assam Congress president Bhubaneswar Kalita told journalists Sunday.

AUDF is not an enemy of the Congress, said senior minister Bhumidhar Barman.

Now with both the Congress and the AGP trying to woo the AUDF, Ajmal is surely going to weight the options before taking a final decision.

It is true we cannot go with any party that shares relationship with the BJP. In politics anything could happen, Ajmal said.

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