GUWAHATI, June 22 � In a development which may have major repercussions for the State�s politics, at least seven AIUDF MLAs are in touch with the ruling Congress and may cross over to the grand old party within the next few months.
Senior Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) leaders told The Assam Tribune that besides suspended AIUDF MLAs Sherman Ali Ahmed and Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya, some other legislators of the Badruddin Ajmal-led party from Goalpara and Barpeta are keen to join the ruling party and contest the 2016 polls on Congress ticket.
�At least two MLAs each from Goalpara and Barpeta districts are in talks with us, besides Sherman Ali and Mazarbhuiya. They are among the most vocal MLAs of the AIUDF and are feeling disenchanted with the leadership of Ajmal as he does not brook any suggestions or opposition within his party,� said a senior APCC office-bearer.
Asked if all the AIUDF MLAs would be allotted Congress party tickets if they switch side before the next polls, he said, �Some will definitely be given tickets. Winnability will be the deciding factor.�
The AIUDF had secured 18 seats in the 2011 polls and emerged as the principal Opposition party to the Congress in the Legislative Assembly. However, Ahmed and Mazarbhuiya have since been suspended from the party.
�We admit that the AIUDF will be a major challenger for us in 2016, especially in the minority-dominated constituencies of lower Assam and Barak Valley. If a good chunk of AIUDF MLAs defects to our party on the eve of the Assembly polls, it will rattle Ajmal. And if these MLAs can win on our tickets, what is the problem?� said a Congress leader.
APCC leaders said that the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls had forced them to re-evaluate their strategy. Of the State�s 14 Parliamentary seats, both the Congress and AIUDF won three seats each in 2014, while the BJP emerged victorious in seven constituencies, with one seat going to an Independent.
�We are keen to induct new faces, particularly youths. We have even invited former AASU president Shankar Prasad Roy and former AASU general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi to join Congress. If someone like Manoj Baruah can jump from AJYCP to BJP, AASU leaders can also join us. After all, unlike BJP, we have not engaged in U-turns on issues like land swap and big dams,� they said.