DATELINE Guwahati /Wasbir Hussain
These days, when AIUDF supremo Maula Badruddin Ajmal speaks, he creates ripples in Assam politics. First, he surprised everyone by saying that his party, the AIUDF, would contest the upcoming Assembly polls in 60 seats and leave 65 seats for the ruling Congress. One doesn’t know where one seat got disappeared (Assam Assembly has 126 seats), but he has urged Muslims in Assam to vote for the Congress in the 65 seats his party was leaving in its favour! “There are anything between 5000 and 40000 Muslim voters in these constituencies. I appeal to them to cast their votes in favour of the Congress,” Maula Ajmal said. Well, this appeal, or this poll arithmetic, he said, was to keep the BJP from coming to power in the State.
Even before pundits were over with alysing as to why the AIUDF president decided to lend open support to the Congress, the Maula dropped another bombshell. This time, Ajmal did so by openly urging the Congress to nomite one of its most veteran leaders and four-time MLA Abdul Muhib Majumdar to the Rajya Sabha this time. Muhib Majumdar on his party has decided not to contest the Assembly polls and has informed his party leaders of his desire to be considered for a Rajya Sabha tenure. But, this is an interl matter of the Congress party and the AIUDFleader lobbying for Majumdar has rather put him in a spot. “Well, Maula Ajmal suggesting my me may actually spoil my chances. I am surprised,” Majumdar said.
Why is Maula Badruddin Ajmal indulging in openly backing the Congress when he seeks to deny any alliance or understanding with Mr Tarun Gogoi & Co? True, the AIUDF’s bigger political enemy is the BJP, but the Congress, too, cannot be its unconditiol friend. By seemingly backing the Congress and urging Muslims in Assam to vote the Congress in all those seats where the AIUDF is not contesting, Maula Ajmal seeks to give an impression about an understanding between the AIUDF and the Congress. That may actually act against the Congress and if it does, it would benefit the AIUDF. Maula Ajmal knows that if the AIUDF has to be the king-maker in Assam this time, the Congress tally should be restricted to around 35. Sowing doubts in the mind of the electorate about a secret AIUDF-Congress pact may consolidate votes in favour of the BJP, not just the anti-Congress votes but even those votes of people who may be in favour of the Congress but who are opposed to the AIUDF.
If the BJP is banking on the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), the AGP, and few other ethnic parties, the Congress knows it can bank on the AIUDF in times of a crisis. In fact, BPF chief Hagrama Mahilary, too, had said some time ago, in jest or otherwise, that the BJP needs to win just enough seats so that it could form the government with BPF support. After all, potential king-makers like the BPF or the AIUDF knows that if the bigger players are to win the required seats to form the government on their own, they would be sidelined. That could be the reason why leaders like Maula Ajmal are openly bragging about their support to the Congress when officially there is no word or pact on any pre-poll alliance. After all, the AIUDF has a limited sphere of influence and wherever its candidates are contesting, they would benefit from a consolidated vote bank. That is not the case with the Congress (or the BJP) and, therefore, doubts in the minds of voters of some secret deal could work against parties like the Congress or the BJP, and not some others like the AIUDF.
On the whole, election 2016 is going to be murky where ethics will play last in the minds of politicians trying to grab power. But, of course, the ball will be in the court of largely conscious voters. That is the silver lining.