New Delhi: The Congress in Assam has severed ties with Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), alleging that its “continuous and mysterious praise of the BJP” has dented the public perception of the Congress and no longer serves to help them.
The decision was taken by the Assam Congress’ core committee, which includes president Bhupen Borah, legislative party leader Debabrata Saikia, and several senior party leaders and MPs such as Gaurav Gogoi and Ripun Bora, among others.
“The Committee observed that Mahajot alliance partner AIUDF’s behaviour and attitude in relation to BJP party has baffled the members of the Congress party,” the resolution passed by the Congress’ core committee Monday read, according to a communique by the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee.
“The AIUDF leadership’s and senior members’ continuous and mysterious praise of the BJP party and the Chief Minister has affected the public perception of the Congress party. In this connection after a long discussion the Core Commiittee members of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee unanimously decided that AIUDF can no longer remain an alliance partner of Mahajot and in this regards will send intimation to AICC,” the resolution further stated.
AIUDF legislature party president Hafiz Bashir Ahmed has called the Congress’ decision “one sided” and “unfortunate”, according to The Hindu.
Speaking to ThePrint Tuesday, MP Gaurav Gogoi said the party came to this decision after receiving negative feedback from grassroot workers about the alliance.
“Grassroot workers as well as several leaders of the party felt that the repeated praise of the BJP by AIUDF is highly unbecoming, and made it seem like they are trying to curry favour with the BJP,” Gogoi told ThePrint.
AIUDF leader Badruddin Ajmal’s brother and party MLA Sirajuddin Ajmall had, in July, reportedly praised CM Himanta Biswa Sharma, appreciating his work, thus triggering a massive controversy.
The AIUDF and the Congress had been at loggerheads for several years, following the former’s launch in 2006. The party is seen as being widely popular among Bengali Muslims in the state.
However, for the purpose of the 2021 assembly elections, the two parties had joined hands under the larger banner of the ‘Mahajot’ or grand alliance. Several Congress members hadn’t readily accepted the alliance even then, but had gone ahead with it in order to not split the anti-BJP votes. The alliance, however, still fell short of winning the majority, with the BJP-led-NDA winning 75 of 126 assembly seats and the Mahajot winning 50.
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‘Ajmal foundation, targeted by BJP, donated funds to govt’
The Congress has also pointed out that the Ajmal Foundation (an NGO run by Badruddin Ajmal) contributed to the CM relief fund to fight Covid in June 2021, when this was the same foundation that had been booked by Guwahati Police for receiving foreign funds and alleged to have terror links by the BJP in December 2020.
Strengthening the current #COVID19 vaccination campaign, @FoundationAjmal & @AjmalPerfumes donated Rs 58 lakh and Rs 25 lakh respectively to the CM Relief Fund. CM Dr @himantabiswa thanked them for their act of generosity. pic.twitter.com/sSkdYNNZHH
— Chief Minister Assam (@CMOfficeAssam) June 4, 2021
“We saw how the BJP would constantly accuse the AIUDF and the Ajmal Foundation of wrongdoing during the elections. But when the same foundation went to give funds to the government later, they readily accepted it,” said Bobbeeta Sharma, Assam Congress spokesperson.
“This makes them look suspicious, like they are hand-in-glove with BJP. Frankly, people observe all of this. This was unnecessarily harming the Congress’ image,” she added.
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‘Time to focus on the party, not alliances’
As part of the resolution, the Congress’ core committee also raised questions about the party’s alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), another partner of the Mahjot alliance. The BPF was a BJP ally in the 2016 government in the state, but joined the opposition alliance in 2021.
The resolution stated that “since the BPF had already expressed their unwillingness in various forums to remain in the Mahajot”, so the core committee would like the high command to take a decision on the matter. While its decision to break ties with the AIUDF was final, the final decision on breaking ties with the BPF is yet to be taken, Sharma said.
Asked whether he regrets the alliance with the AIUDF for the polls, Gogoi said the alliance was effective during the campaign, but the Congress should now work to strengthen itself.
“During the elections, our campaign was solid and leaders worked together. But now it’s time for us to work on strengthening the Congress’ organisation and make us a robust party,” Gogoi said.
(Edited by Poulomi Ghosh)
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