Congress, Left and other opposition parties in Assam form anti-BJP grand alliance for Assembly election

Published : January 20, 2021 20:08 IST

Lurinjyoti Gogoi (right), president of Assam Jatiya Parishad, in Guwahati on December 23, 2020. Photo: PTI

Six opposition parties of Assam on Tuesday formed a ‘Mahajotbandhan’ (grand alliance) to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in the upcoming Assembly election. Leaders of the Congress, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation) and the newly- formed regional party Anchalik Gana Morcha announced the formation of their anti-BJP alliance at a joint press conference in Guwahati. They urged the two new regional parties, the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and the Raijor Dal, to join them.

The formation of the alliance came four days ahead of a scheduled visit to Sivasagar by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 23 to kick off the BJP’s election campaign. Modi’s visit will be followed by that of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to Nalbari and Kokrajhar districts on the following day.

In the 2016 Assembly election, the Congress won 26 seats while the AIUDF won 13 seats in the 126-member Legislative Assembly. The Left parties failed to win even a single seat.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Ripun Bora said: “Today will be remembered as a historic day in Assam politics after five political parties have united with the Congress to oust the BJP and save Assam.” Senior Congress leaders, including All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary and Assam in-charge Jitendra Singh Alwar, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, and AICC General Secretary Mukul Wasnik were also present at the joint meeting in which the alliance was sealed. Singh said that the grand alliance had been formed without preconditions and that the common objective of all the partners was to defeat the BJP. Ripun Bora said the party’s doors were open to all anti-BJP parties.

The AJP and the Raijor Dal have decided to forge an electoral tie-up and are also trying to unite anti-BJP, anti-AIUDF regional parties. The AJP has ruled out any tie-up with national parties, the AIUDF and any regional parties in alliance with the BJP (I.e the Asom Gana Parishad and the United People's Party Liberal). The AJP was formed at the behest of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad. The AASU has announced protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, during the visits of Modi and Shah to the State. The AJP has taken up steps to form over 27,000 booth committees to strengthen the party organisation.

The Raijor Dal, too, has ruled out any alliance with parties having tie-ups with the BJP and the AIUDF. The new party was formed at the behest of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) led by the Right to Information (RTI) activist and peasants’ leader Akhil Gogoi. Gogoi is currently in judicial detention in a National Investigation Agency (NIA) case. The Assam Police arrested him in December 2019 during the intensified movement against the CAA, and later handed him over to the NIA. The Raijor Dal elected Gogoi as its president.

Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Wednesday announced that the schedule of the Assam Assembly election would be finalised soon keeping in mind the schedules of various board examinations. Most political parties in their representations before the Commission favoured holding the election before the Rongali Bihu festival which is celebrated in mid-April. The Congress urged the commission to hold the election after Bihu.

Addressing a press meet before concluding his three-day visit to the State to take stock of the preparations and meet the political parties, the CEC said auxiliary polling booths would be set up to make voting safe amidst COVID-19.