GUWAHATI, May 19 - His plan to play the role of “king” or “king-maker” may have been thwarted by the unprecedented surge of the BJP-led alliance and dwindling of his own party’s strength in the Assembly polls, but All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) supremo Badruddin Ajmal is still determined to make his mark in the State’s politics and is in fact looking to expand his footprints nationally in the days to come.
Speaking exclusively to The Assam Tribune after results of the Assembly polls were declared this afternoon, Ajmal said that while he admits that the results have been not of the kind he was expecting, his party will play a crucial role on the floor of the House as well as outside it.
Ajmal accused the Congress of being “responsible” for the major success of the BJP-led alliance in the polls. He also cautioned the BJP against trying to bring religion into the governance process.
“We respect the mandate given by the electorate. We congratulate the winners. They (BJP) should work for all people of Assam and bring about development. They should refrain from indulging in communal politics,” he said.
Admitting he was not expecting this kind of a result, Ajmal added, “Congress is responsible for this. We were ready for a ‘mahajot’, but despite repeated requests our overtures were rejected.”
He said that there are some “RSS and BJP sympathisers” in the Congress party who had made it their mission to “finish off” the AIUDF.
“The language used by some Congress leaders, including APCC chief Anjan Dutta, was of a kind which is not used in politics. We are not enemies but only political rivals and should maintain some decency,” Ajmal said.
The Lok Sabha MP from Dhubri blamed both Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and APCC chief Dutta for dividing the secular vote and facilitating the win of the BJP-led alliance.
“Their attitude led to loss for both the Congress and the AIUDF. Their strategy led to major success for BJP in lower Assam. Rahul Gandhi addressed four rallies in minority-dominated areas of lower Assam where our party support was strong, while he attended only a single meeting in upper Assam in the run-up to the polls. Such strategies led to division of votes and helped the BJP,” he said.
About his own defeat from South Salmara, Ajmal said, “Ups and downs are part of politics and there is nothing to be upset about in case of reversals.”
Ajmal said his party MLAs will play the role of a constructive opposition in the Assembly.
Ajmal denied the charge that the AIUDF put up candidates in many constituencies of upper Assam and the north bank where it had no base with the intention of hurting the prospects of the Congress.
“We approached the Congress many times for a ‘mahajot’. But when our offer was turned down we decided to do what was best for our party. All parties want to expand their own base and we still contested only those seats where we have support of at least 20,000 voters,” he said.
The AIUDF supremo said that despite the setback in the Assembly polls, his party is now ready to play a bigger role on the national stage.
“The day the old Janata Parivar parties merge under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, I assure you we will stand beside him. The Congress is on the decline nationally and there is a need for a strong third force,” he said. Ajmal, however, added that the AIUDF will maintain its own distinct identity and not merge with the united Janata Parivar.
“Our target is to win at least six Lok Sabha seats from Assam in the 2019 polls. We have learned some valuable lessons from the poll results today, and our party will now get ready for the Panchayat polls and the 2019 Parliamentary polls,” he said, adding that the AIUDF is committed to increasing its base beyond its traditional base of minority voters.
Asked if dropping some of the sitting MLAs by the party was a wrong decision, Ajmal said, “Had we not dropped those MLAs, our results this time would have been even worse.”
After the heat and dust of the poll campaign, Ajmal is planning to go with his family to Jammu & Kashmir for a few days of vacation.