[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]P[/dropcap]reparing for a do-or-die battle against the BJP in Assam, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is counting on the charisma of poll strategist Prashant Kishor and powerful Muslim leader Maulana Badruddin Ajmal to turn the tide of 15 years of anti-incumbency and give him an unprecedented fourth term.
While both Prashant and Ajmal have so far been non-committal in helping out Gogoi, a section of Congress leaders feel that joining hands with the Maulana, who is seen as a messiah of the illegal Bangladeshi migrants, could polarize the Hindu voters towards the BJP.
On Monday, Gogoi confirmed that he has spoken to Prashant, the architect of the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance stupendous victory over the NDA in the recent Bihar polls. “I’ve spoken to Prashant Kishor and I am waiting for his answer,” Gogoi told reporters here.
As a sign that the Congress leadership was ready to embrace the Maulana, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was seen exchanging pleasantries…
What Gogoi did not reveal is that his son Gaurav Gogoi, who is a member of Lok Sabha, recently met Prashant in Patna and invited him to supervise the party’s campaign in Assam.
Prashant’s micro management of the Bihar elections, his role in providing inputs for selection of candidates, and countering the BJP’s high-voltage media blitzkrieg with a low-budget campaign, played a key role in ensuring the Grand Alliance sweep.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]o stave off the BJP’s challenge, Gogoi is desperate to join hands with Ajmal despite its possible adverse ramifications on the Hindu votes. While confirming to the reporters that he was in touch with Ajmal, Gogoi also clarified that the Maulana has so far not made up his mind. Gogoi has the blessings of the Congress leadership to engage the Maulana whose All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won 18 seats in the 126-member Assam assembly in 2011 to emerge the principal opposition party. As a sign that the Congress leadership was ready to embrace the Maulana, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was seen exchanging pleasantries with him in Patna at the swearing in ceremony of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
During the last five years, the AIUFF has spread its wings and made inroads into new areas. In April this year, it won four seats in the Bodoland Territorial Council elections in lower Assam whereas the Congress failed to open its account in the region.
It’s an open secret that the Gogoi and Ajmal never saw eye to eye. Commenting about the perfume baron who floated the AIUDF on anti-Congress platform in 2006, Gogoi once famously remarked : “who is Ajmal”. But today he has to swallow his pride and pray that that the big-bearded Maulana will come to his rescue in an election where he is battling powerful wave of anti-incumbency.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]G[/dropcap]ogoi is trying to stitch a sort of Grand Alliance in Assam by bringing together Congress, the AIUDF and the Atom Gina Paris had on one platform. This is his only chance to prevent the BJP from capturing power in the state, considering the fact the BJP won seven out of the 14 seats in the state in the Lok Sabha polls and has did very well in the civic polls as well.
In a state where illegal migration is a big issue, the BJP is also aggressively trying to polarize the Hindu voters. The recent statement of the state governor P B Acharya, who is a BJP appointee, that all persecuted Hindus were welcome to India and the Muslims were free to go anywhere they want, is seen as the part of the same strategy.
For the time being Gogoi has to deal with too many ifs and buts whereas the choice is clear for the BJP.
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