Guwahati, April 7 (IANS): Assam's ruling Congress finds itself in trouble with its only ally, the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), threatening to sever ties and move over to the Opposition alliance to form an alternative government.
"Let me make it very clear to the Congress that we have the option of supporting the AGP, BJP and the AIUDF and form an alternative government next month," BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary told IANS. The BPF, an ally of the ruling Congress government in Assam, has 10 legislators in the outgoing Assembly; three of these were ministers in the Tarun Gogoi-led Cabinet.
The first phase of the Assam asembly poll was held April 4 and the second round is on April 11.
Explaining that it would be a friendly fight, the ruling Congress has fielded candidates in the BPF-dominated tribal Bodo heartland in western and northern Assam. But relations really soured after the recent election rallies addressed by the president of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee Bhubanewar Kalita in the constituency of BPF candidate Pramila Rani Brahma (agriculture minister). He launched a blistering attack, saying there was no development in Brahma's area.
"She maybe a minister (Brahma), but she did nothing for her constituency and whatever she did was for her own personal gain only. People of Kokrajhar East constituency are now looking for a change and hence we appeal that there should be a vote for the Congress candidate," Kalita said in an election meeting earlier this week in Brahma's constituency.
"We are surprised with the recent statements made by Bhubanewar Kalita. Maybe he doesn't want a Congress-BPF government again. Or maybe, he knows he cannot become the chief minister surpassing Tarun Gogoi and hence is trying to sabotage the BPF," Mohilary said.
"If Kalita is to be believed, there is no development work in Kokrajhar East; then is he not questioning the government's failure? He is a leader without any firm rooting and hence his statements are also confusing."
Brahma too reacted angrily saying the APCC president's remarks were unfortunate.
"Bhubaneswar Kalita is a leader without any mass support and hence he does not know what he is saying. We are an ally of the Congress party no doubt, but we know only Tarun Gogoi and have nothing to do with the APCC president," Brahma said.
The Congress party knows that forming the government without the support of the BPF is an uphill task.
"We would form the next government and the BPF would continue to be our friend undoubtedly," Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS. Gogoi, however, refused to elaborate on the controversial speech of the APCC president.