GUWAHATI, April 17 - Many middle and lower rung AIUDF leaders and workers are switching over to the Congress and such defections indicate that the AIUDF is losing ground in its traditional strongholds, according to the grand old party.
“A number of AIUDF leaders and workers have joined our party at various places across the State. The process is still going on. Those who have switched over to our side have realised that AIUDF’s presence only provides the BJP an opportunity to attempt polarisation for the sake of electoral gains,” Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) general secretary Apurba Bhattacharya told The Assam Tribune.
With the electorate from the minority community expected to play a major role in the constituencies of Assam going to the polls in the second and third phases of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress party also claimed that it has received very positive response in the minority-dominated areas.
Terming both the AIUDF and the BJP “communal”, Bhattacharya said that the defections from the Badruddin Ajmal-led party indicate that it is losing its base.
“AIUDF joined hands with the BJP in some districts to form zila parishads after last year’s panchayat polls. The very fact that the rank and file of the AIUDF are leaving the party and crossing over to us clearly shows that we have been able to make progress and expand our base in those areas where AIUDF traditionally had a good presence,” Bhattacharya said.
He added that Congress is confident of winning from Dhubri, Barpeta and Karimganj constituencies this time. The AIUDF had won from these three constituencies in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Dhubri, Barpeta and Karimganj are also the only three seats where the AIUDF has fielded its own candidates in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.
“In last year’s panchayat polls, we did very well in Dhubri and in other areas with significant presence of minority community electorate. The minority community voters are very conscious and this time they are determined to defeat the communal forces. Besides, the policies outlined in our party’s manifesto this time have attracted the common voters everywhere, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion,” the APCC general secretary said.
The AIUDF, however, refuted the claims made by the Congress. “There have been no defections from our party,” said Haidor Hussain Bora, general secretary of AIUDF.
He claimed that the party’s traditional support base is intact. “The election meetings and campaign rallies addressed by our leader Badruddin Ajmal are drawing lakhs of people. The minorities are still with us and that is obvious to anybody who has been to any of our campaign meetings. We formed the zila parishad in Mankachar and also did very well in Dhubri during the panchayat polls last year. Besides, Lok Sabha polls and panchayat elections are very different,” Bora said.
He added that the party is confident of retaining Dhubri, Barpeta and Karimganj this time.
“Congress has expertise in spreading misinformation and they have always targeted our party. Congress may term us communal, but their leaders should look back at their own party’s history. It was the Congress party which facilitated growth of communal politics in India,” said Bora.