‘A party goes for an electoral alliance with other parties only when it feels itself not strong enough to win. Since the issue of alliance has been raked up by none other than the Chief Minister, the message he has already got across other parties and the public is that the Congress is not strong enough to win the 2016 Assembly elections’. — Himanta Biswa Sarma
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, February 23: That Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is on a soggy turf – both in leading the Congress from the front during the Assembly polls in 2016 in the State and in keeping the house in order as the Chief Minister of the state – has become clearer than ever before with a number of former ministers and MLAs openly criticizing his hint for an alliance with the AIUDF.
As of discussion going on among the top leaders of the party for the past few days, the party has already sniffed the unpleasant fact that its cannot make it to Dispur for the fourth consecutive term alone, and as such they have engaged themselves to find means that can ensure them to win the seemingly ‘losing battle’. The party believes that a ‘losing electoral battle’ can be won if there is strategic partnership among parties that are not strong enough to make any big win.
It is worth mentioning here that whenever any Congress-AIUDF electoral alliance is discussed or talked about, Gogoi’s famous one-liner – who is Badruddin – does make a quick flash in everybody’s mind. Since Congress Assam in-charge CP Joshi and Gogoi had a discussion on the issue of alliance with the AIUDF, it, political pundits said, is beyond doubt that the Congress in Assam has taken it for granted that it cannot go it alone in the 2016 Assembly elections. According to sources, Gogoi kept the option of alliance with the AIUDF open. He, however, said that the matter was not discussed with the AIUDF as yet.
However, this time around it is unlikely that things will go according to what Gogoi will do. This is because Gogoi’s hint for an alliance with the AIUDF has blown the lid off the Congress’ ‘bleak prospects’ in the coming Assembly elections in the state, if it goes it alone. Such a disclosure, many in the party feel, will also have its telling effect on the morale of party workers.
This is not all. Gogoi has hit roadblocks from within the party to his plan for an electoral alliance with the AIUDF. Of course, he also has a few takers of this plan. Minister Rakibul Hussain, a known Gogoi loyalist, said that the issue of alliance with the AIUDF or any other party depends on the Chief Minister and the party high command. “If the party high command says ‘yes’ to the plan for an alliance with the AIUDF, we can’t make it ‘no’ here in Assam,” Hussain said.
However, former health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma brought forth the flip side of the story. He is totally against any alliance with the AIUDF. He said: “A party goes for an electoral alliance with other parties only when it feels itself not strong enough to win. Since the issue of alliance has been raked up by none other than the Chief Minister, the message he has already got across other parties and the public is that ‘the Congress is not strong enough to win the 2016 Assembly elections alone. In such a situation, which party will come forward for alliance with a weak party?”
Sarma said: “We’ve still a year in hand. Instead of knocking door-to-door for an electoral alliance with other parties, we should engage ourselves to strengthen the party base. If we gain the winning prospects, other parties will queue up for alliance with us.”
Former minister Siddeque Ahmed is also against any Congress-AIUDF alliance in the coming Assembly elections in the state. “If we do such a blunder, we’ll sure lose a large chunk of Hindu votes,” he said.
Former minister Ardhendu Dey is also against any alliance with the Congress.
One of the major hurdles in any Congress-AIUDF alliance in Assam is that a large number of Congress’ minority candidates with winning prospects may not get party tickets as for every such constituency the AIUDF will also like to field its candidates.
Another problem that may spell doom for the Congress in Assam is the yawning gap between Dispur and Rajiv Bavan.
Meanwhile, AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal today said that the Congress was in the habit of making such misleading statements regarding alliance. “We have no such talks with the Congress for alliance, and we are set to go it alone in the coming Assembly elections. Our anti-Congress and anti-BJP stance still stands. We appeal to the public not to be misled by the misleading statements being made by the Congress,” he said.
Meanwhile, other parties, including the BJP, in the state have also been taking the matter of alliance seriously, and the lack on consensus is common among all the parties. The AGP is contemplating on floating a third front, but things are yet to get shape.