GUWAHATI, Dec 14 - All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which had emerged as the second largest party during the last panchayat elections in Assam, has faced serious erosion in its support base this time.
The Badruddin Ajmal-led party, which faced reverses in many of its traditional strongholds like Dhubri, Nagaon, Hojai and Barpeta, has attributed its loss to what it described as the “misinformation campaign and false propaganda” unleashed by the Congress party among the minority voters.
AIUDF had secured second place among all parties in the last panchayat polls by winning 76 of the 420 zila parishad (ZP) constituencies, 397 of 2,200 seats of anchalik panchayat (AP) members, 387 of 2,200 gaon panchayat (GP) presidents’ posts and 2,623 of the 22,000 seats of GP ward members.
In contrast, till 5 pm today, with most of the votes counted, the party managed to win only 15 ZP constituencies, 111 seats of AP members, 106 posts of GP presidents and only 755 seats of GP ward members.
AIUDF leaders, however, said that the party would form zila parishads in South Salmara-Mancachar and Hailakandi districts and also play a major role in Dhubri and Darrang.
“We accept the verdict of the electorate. We will make a detailed review to find out the reasons for our defeat in the polls. Only then will we be able to arrive at a full conclusion regarding the exact factors which led to this kind of a setback for us,” Haidor Hussain Bora, general secretary of AIUDF, told The Assam Tribune.
He added, “However, one thing is for sure. The Congress succeeded in its efforts to spread false propaganda against us. They went among the minority voters alleging that AIUDF was responsible for the win of BJP in 2016 Assembly polls. The negative campaign and falsehood spread by the Congress dented our support base to some extent.”
Bora said that as per preliminary reports from the ground, AIUDF candidates lost elections at many places by very slim margins.
“That is the case in many seats in districts like Barpeta and also in places like Kalaigaon in Darrang. But at the same time our vote share, as compared to the figures of the 2016 Assembly elections, has gone up in Batadraba and Baghbar, among other places. In South Abhayapuri, we have managed to sweep the elections,” said Bora, who is known as a confidante of party chief Ajmal.
The party had contested fewer number of seats during these polls as compared to the last panchayat elections, added the AIUDF leader.
“It was a strategic decision taken by our party’s core committee to contest less number of seats. For example, we did not contest in minority-dominated Moirabri,” Bora said.
He, however, refused to accept the argument that Congress has managed to take over the entire minority vote bank of AIUDF.
“If that had really been the case then BJP would not have won in char areas of Baghbar or in Samuguri. Whether we lost votes to the Congress or to the BJP or to the AGP will become clear only after a review is carried out at the grassroots,” Bora said.
The senior AIUDF leader added that the panchayat poll results will not hurt the party’s performance during next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
“The issues are different in Lok Sabha, Assembly and local body elections. We did well in Mancachar area during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls despite performing badly in that place during the Assembly elections of 2011 and 2016. In addition, there is talk about a grand alliance of opposition parties for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. A lot will depend on what happens over the next three-four months,” Bora said.