Disgruntled Shankar Prasad crosses over to Congress
Suspended AIUDF MLAs Sherman Ali and Ataur Rahman Majar Bhuyan, fomer AAKRSU adviser Biswajit Ray too join Congress; BJP poster campaign draws Gogoi’s ire
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 8: Former AASU president turned BJP leader Shankar Prasad Ray today joined the Congress at Rajiv Bhawan in Guwahati along with former AAKRSU adviser Biswajit Ray, suspended AIUDF MLAs Sherman Ali and Ataur Rahman Majar Bhuyan and hundreds of supporters in the presence of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and APCC president Anjan Dutta.
Shankar Prasad Ray had joined the BJP on September 28 last. However, post AGP-BJP alliance, Ray hardly got any space in the saffron party as the Bongaigaon constituency which he had been eyeing to contest was left for the AGP by the BJP leadership.
Ray’s decision to join the Congress came shortly after the AGP and the BJP made official their alliance in New Delhi. Soon after the joint statement of both the parties, Ray established contact with the Congress.
Ray’s crossover to the Congress evoked sharp reactions in social media too on Monday and Tuesday, with some Netizens welcoming his move and others strongly criticizing him as a leader whose ‘only ambition is to become an MLA’.
It may be recalled that not very long back when he was AASU president, Ray had been highly vocal against Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and even termed the latter as one of the most ‘unsuccessful and spineless chief minister Assam has ever had.’ However, on Tuesday, both were seen sharing the dais as the Chief Minister welcomed him to the Congress with a gamosa.
Sources in the Congress have informed that Ray will be given the party ticket for Bongaigaon while Biswajit Ray will be its candidate in Bijni. The sitting AIUDF MLAs are likely to get Congress candidature from their respective constituencies.
Speaking on the occasion, Ray said, “When I joined the BJP, I thought it will be a good platform to work for the indigenous people of the State. But I soon realized that it is not the appropriate platform to raise your concern for indigenous people. BJP is a party for those who are fincially sound. Ideology and principles have no value in BJP.”
Alleging that the BJP and the AIUDF share a close relationship, Ray said, “What I experienced in the BJP all these months is that the BJP and the AIUDF have a secret understanding. A BJP leader is specially engaged in talks with the AIUDF.” He further added that he will now continue to work for the indigenous people from the Congress.
Former AAKRSU adviser Biswajit Ray said, “BJP is polluting the ethnic and commul harmony in the State. It is trying to pit one community against another for political benefit. In 2014, when campaigning for the Lok Sabha election, rendra Modi himself announced in Bongaigaon that ST status will be accorded to the six ethnic communities of the State, but after coming to power, the BJP has made a U-turn on it.”
Suspended AIUDF MLA of Baghbor Sherman Ali alleged that there is no interl democracy in the AIUDF. He said, “Ajmal is a self-centered person. He is cheating the people. Using the emotion of minority people for his own benefit, Ajmal is deceiving them. When I was in the AIUDF, I witnessed his darker side. But when I protested, they suspended me. Ajmal is using the AIUDF for gain in his family business.”
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in his speech, targeted the AGP-BJP alliance and questioned if they have any common minimum programme. “Do they have any common minimum programme? These two parties forged the alliance for the sake of power and not for the cause of the people,” he said.
“The BJP and the AIUDF have a secret understanding, for which reason the BJP is now silent on the foreigners issue. Himanta Biswa Sarma is working as a bridge between the two parties,” Gogoi alleged.
Hitting out at the BJP over its poster campaign using Gogoi’s oft-used one-liner ‘Baad Diya He!’ (Oh, leave it!) as a punch line, the Chief Minister quipped, “They are now ridiculing me, but the people of Assam will say this time — ‘Baad Diya He BJP-k’ (Oh, leave the BJP).” He also added that all the ethnic communities of Assam are now coming out against the BJP to fight against its divisive ideology.
Other leaders who joined the Congress today include Sabda Ram Rabha of BJP, Bijon Lal Chowdhury, Uday Kumar Basumatary, Ditul Chandra Baruah, Muzib Ali Ahmed and Maqbul Hussain.