Big brother tussle
As the Congress continues to blow hot and cold over a ‘secular’ alliance to keep the BJP out of Assam, AIUDF supremo Badaruddin Ajmal has upped the ante by calling upon the ruling party to display a ‘broad mind’ even as he demanded 53 seats to contest in the upcoming assembly elections. Apart from the 18 seats held by the AIUDF presently, Ajmal wants 35 more seats to be vacated by the Congress, including Samaguri and Lahorighat represented by cabinet ministers Rakibul Hussain and zrul Islam respectively. In an indirect reference to Assam Pradesh Congress chief Anjan Dutta for ruling out any truck with the AIUDF, Ajmal has pointedly said that he will speak only with the CM about any tie-up, while warning that Congress leaders like Hussain and Islam will be ‘wiped out’ from Muslim domited seats. With the Congress recently conducting an interl survey of such seats and reportedly feeling more confident of its chances, is the AIUDF supremo taking a pre-emptive bargaining position? When Ajmal is hectoring the Congress leadership to be more ‘broad-minded’, is he pushing for the AIUDF to be big brother in the much bandied about grand alliance in the Bihar ‘mahagatbandhan’ model? In fact, Ajmal has time and again pointed out that the Bihar grand alliance came about only because Nitish Kumar’s ruling JD(U) accommodated Laloo Prasad’s RJD, agreeing that the two parties will contest in 101 seats each of the total 243 seats. But Ajmal’s logic does not take into account a very crucial factor — that Laloo Prasad is no longer on the same footing with Nitish Kumar politically. Tainted in the eyes of the law in the fodder scam case, Laloo Prasad stands disqualified from Lok Sabha and cannot contest elections for some time. The RJD chief is satisfied that both his sons won and are now ministers, but surely they cannot challenge Nitish Kumar’s authority anytime soon. So Nitish Kumar could afford to be broad-minded with Laloo Prasad, but can that apply to Tarun Gogoi vis-a-vis Badaruddin Ajmal? Once the Congress accedes to Ajmal’s bluff that only the AIUDF can deliver a win in Muslim-majority seats, the ruling party would be in effect surrendering this electorate and become politically reduced, as in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.