NEW DELHI, Aug 10 - With the opposition Congress in disarray in Assam, the AICC may opt for massive overhaul of the party in the State and field new faces in the forthcoming Assembly polls due next year.
AICC sources said the party had commissioned a survey in the State ahead of the polls reports of which have come in. The survey has predicted a dismal picture for the party in upper Assam, jolting the top Congress leaders there.
Reports said that a possible Congress-AIUDF alliance to consolidate the minority votes in lower Assam might lead to a backlash in upper Assam dominated by indigenous communities as also the tea belt. The BJP has made tremendous inroads into the tea belt, once a strong Congress bastion.
Suggestions have come that a major change in the distribution of tickets by way of introducing fresh faces would tackle the possible rout of the party. The ruling BJP, on the other hand, is in a comfortable position in upper Assam, North Bank and central Assam after it swept the seats of Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, Lakhimpur and Mangaldoi in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The party, however, faces a rout in Barak valley at the hands of Congress-AIUDF alliance, the survey has said.
The upper Assam and the North Bank account for more than 50 crucial seats, including the reserved seats in autonomous council areas like Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts.
The Congress was able to win only a few seats in the 2016 Assembly elections, including Titabor, Nazira, Mariani, Sivasagar, Sarupathar, Doomdooma and Golaghat. According to the preliminary survey, among these seats the Congress is in a strong position only in Golaghat and Nazira.
With no formidable candidates in the fray, the Congress high command has reportedly decided to shortlist fresh faces in the major seats of upper Assam, central Assam and North Bank to tackle infighting between former MLAs and existing ones.
Senior leaders of the party are likely to be requested to make way for new faces in seats like Titabor, Jorhat, Sivasagar, Moran, Dibrugarh, Sonari, Mahmora, Lahowal, Digboi, Duliajan, Tezpur, Sadiya, Lakhimpur, Sootea, Dhemaji, Doomdooma, Dergaon, Bokajan, Bokakhat, Behali, Tingkhong, Nagaon, Raha, Margherita, Tinsukia, Batadraba, Dhing, Lahorighat, Nowbaisa, Jonai, Majuli, Sarupathar among others, sources said.
The survey also reported infighting among prospective candidates owing their allegiance to different lobbies of the Congress. The survey has also put a question mark on the performance of AICC general secretary Harish Rawat who has so far failed to unite all the factions.
Sources said that given the mood of the people in the BJP-ruled State, the Congress party may not formally enter into an alliance with the AIUDF, but opt for seat sharing arrangements. This is to blunt the possibility of the BJP polarising the electorate. Further, it is going to join hands with regional parties opposed to the BJP and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
Meanwhile, a group of Congressmen are expected to join the BJP ahead of the elections, while some BJP leaders, including a few sitting MLAs, are in talks with the Congress to join the party, sources confided.