Assam polls: 18 leaders of Cong’s ally flown to Jaipur over horse-trading fears - Hindustan Times
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Assam polls: 18 leaders of Cong’s ally flown to Jaipur over horse-trading fears

ByUtpal Parashar and Sachin Saini, Hindustan Times, Guwahati/jaipur
Apr 10, 2021 07:09 AM IST

The leaders have been kept in the same hotel in the Rajasthan capital where chief minister Ashok Gehlot camped with his party MLAs during a rebellion by then deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot in July 2020.

Nearly 18 candidates of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), part of the Congress-led alliance in Assam, were flown to Jaipur’s Fairmont Hotel on Friday after party leaders feared that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could try to lure them away ahead of May 2 election results. The three phase Assam assembly elections ended on April 6.

The Maulana Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF is part of the Congress-led alliance known as Mahajot.(File photo)
The Maulana Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF is part of the Congress-led alliance known as Mahajot.(File photo)

The Maulana Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF is part of the Congress-led alliance known as Mahajot.

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“The likelihood of the BJP indulging in dirty tricks and trying to influence our candidates prompted the decision. Another reason for the trip was that our candidates wanted to take a pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharif Dargah after a hectic poll campaign,” said Mohd Aminul Islam, organising secretary of the AIUDF, who is accompanying the candidates.

The BJP denied the charges and called the decision “drama”.

The leaders have been kept in the same hotel in the Rajasthan capital where chief minister Ashok Gehlot camped with his party MLAs during a rebellion by then deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot in July 2020.

A senior Congress leader familiar with the development, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that arrangements for the Assam candidates were made as per the directives of the party high command.

“We are looking after the people and showing our hospitality, and providing them a sense of security. BJP has created an atmosphere of horse-trading across the country. People who believe in democracy are all worried ,” said the Congress’ chief whip in Rajasthan Mahesh Joshi.

“The AIUDF is indulging in drama ahead of counting. Our party is winning the election with a very comfortable majority and we are not bothered about what their candidates are doing. Everything will become clear on May 2,” said BJP spokesperson Subhash Dutta.

The Congress, which was in power in Assam for 15 years (2001-2016) until the BJP-led alliance came to power in Assam in 2016, forged the Mahajot or “Grand Alliance”, a 10-party coalition comprising the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist), the AIUDF, Jimochayan (Deori) People’s Party (JDPP), Adivasi National Party (ANP), Anchalik Gana Morcha, Bodoland People’s Party (BPF) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

“The BJP is going to lose this election and they have only one option left -- trying to influence MLAs from other parties to switch sides with various inducements. That’s why we need to be careful. We have already seen what happened during assembly polls in Goa and Manipur earlier,” said Islam.

Besides Islam, two other senior leaders of the AIUDF have accompanied the candidates to Rajasthan.

HT learns that leaders from the Congress and the BPF in Assam may also be flown out of the state soon, although Congress candidates said they have no idea of this.

“I have heard about what the AIUDF did. I have no idea if the Congress plans a similar move. It is now clear that our alliance will form the next government and it won’t be surprising if the BJP indulged in horse-trading of MLAs in an attempt attempt to retain power,” said party candidate from Nazira, Debabrata Saikia

Another Congress leader, who was not willing to be named, did not rule out the party candidates being shifted to Jaipur or some-other place. “They may be taken to Chhattisgarh or Maharashtra,” the leader said, adding that nothing has been decided so far.

“A lot of new things have been imported to Assam from other states. We have seen incidents in other states where the largest political party wasn’t invited to form a government while others cobbled up to claim power. All political parties are vulnerable and the fear of poaching of candidates is real and genuine,” said Akhil Ranjan Dutta, professor of political science Gauhati University.

“Except perhaps for Left parties, it is now seen that candidates of most political parties don’t have ideological and political commitment. Political parties also don’t seem to have control over their representatives. This is an extremely unhealthy trend for Assam and an insult to the voters’ verdict.”

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