Ever since the inception of AIUDF as a counter-reaction to the repeal of the IMDT Act, party chief Badruddin Ajmal has been leaving no stone unturned to project himself as the sole, undisputed leader of all Muslims in Assam. He has been at pains to bracket indigenous Muslims of the State, living harmoniously with other indigenous communities for centuries, with immigrant Muslims from Bangladesh for obvious electoral gains. Now he has begun upping the ante with overtly commul rhetoric as the crucial assembly elections draw near. At an election rally in Barpeta recently, Ajmal called for ‘all Muslims in Assam to come together, because the BJP has begun consolidating the Hindus after Prime Minister rendra Modi’s visit’. If the Muslims do not join hands before the elections, they will not be able to survive in Assam afterwards, warned the AIUDF supremo. The rhetoric is reminiscent of the kind heard before the pre-partition days in the country’s eastern and western parts, when thanks to the splittist agenda of the British colonialists, India lurched towards independence with divisive talk of Hindu, Muslim and Untouchable electorates. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi may well talk of the Congress desire for alliance with ‘non-commul’ parties, while in the same breath, certify Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF to be ‘less commul than the BJP’. It is a moot point what kind of a quantitative or qualitative scale he has used to measure their ‘degree of commulism’, but in the process, Gogoi has idvertently shown that the Congress agenda is not above board either. Ajmal said as much in his incendiary speech at Baghbor in Barpeta that it was the Congress that ‘allowed shilanyas at Babri Masjid leading to its eventual destruction’. In a State like Assam which has long been a model of commul harmony, selective and biased treatment of political parties pursuing commul agendas needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Several parties and organisations in the State have taken a principled stand against the NDA government’s move to differentiate between Hindu and Muslim refugees from Bangladesh and Pakistan, particularly as this move will spell a death blow to the Assam Accord. Indigenous Muslims are as much sons of the soil as members of any of the State’s indigenous tribes or ethnic communities. Likewise, migrants who have been regularized under the law of the land must be accepted with open arms, irrespective of whether they are Hindus or Muslims. The Election Commission needs to take a firm hand against mischievous rhetoric leaders like Badruddin Ajmal are using that can cause irreparable harm to the social fabric of the State.