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Opp in Assam still shy of unity

By PRANJAL BHUYAN
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GUWAHATI, July 27 - Even as Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) president Nitish Kumar discarded the RJD and Congress and embraced the BJP to form a new government in Patna, thus heralding the end of the much-hyped �grand alliance� or �mahagathbandhan� of the anti-saffron forces, Opposition parties in Assam claim that it will not impact their strategies here though they admit that the Bihar developments are a setback for the �secular� ideology nationwide.

Leaders of various Opposition parties told The Assam Tribune that the political landscape and ideological parameters in Assam are vastly different from those in Bihar.

Major Opposition parties in Assam seem reluctant to embrace the idea of a united front against the BJP-led NDA, at least as far as the electoral arena is concerned.

�The grand alliance in Bihar was formed on the basis of ideology and JD (U) was the major stakeholder in it. Now that Nitish has broken ranks with the Opposition and embraced the BJP, there will no doubt be at least some effect on the Opposition consolidation everywhere in India. But as far as Assam is concerned, there is no Opposition unity here as yet and so the situation is different. Congress remains the principal Opposition in Assam and we are steadfast in our fight against communal forces,� Pradyut Bordoloi, vice president of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) told this newspaper today.

He said that Congress in Assam has already made it clear that it does not want to have any dealings with the AIUDF.

�However, if in future, parties like the CPI, CPI (M) and even the AGP want to reach some minimum understanding with us on an anti-communal platform, we may be open to the idea. There is much resentment within the AGP over its alliance with BJP,� Bordoloi said.

He added that the BJP�s strategy is to gobble up regional forces and smaller parties and cited the latest developments in Bihar, along with happenings in states like Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, as examples.

Hafiz Bashir Ahmed Kasimi, leader of the AIUDF Legislature Party in the Assam Assembly, said the Bihar developments point to the aggressive �Hindutva� agenda of the BJP, which wants to finish off regional forces.

�It will have an effect on Assam and the rest of the country at least to some degree. But in Assam the effect will be marginal because there is no such grand alliance. Here the AIUDF and Congress are the only Opposition forces having any formidable bases of their own. So our leader Badruddin Ajmal has time and again called for having at least some coordination between the two parties as both are opposed to the communal ideology,� Kasimi, who is also general secretary of the AIUDF, said.

Deben Bhattacharya, secretary of the CPI (M) Assam State Committee, said, �Assam is different and so the effect will be minimal. But it is a cause of concern that many regional outfits are moving towards the BJP. That will harm the cause of secularism everywhere.�

He said that the CPI (M) is part of the 11-party Left Democratic Manch in Assam and there is no question of attempting a Bihar style grand alliance in here. �The Left and democratic forces in Assam are against both the BJP and the Congress,� said the Marxist leader.

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Opp in Assam still shy of unity

GUWAHATI, July 27 - Even as Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) president Nitish Kumar discarded the RJD and Congress and embraced the BJP to form a new government in Patna, thus heralding the end of the much-hyped �grand alliance� or �mahagathbandhan� of the anti-saffron forces, Opposition parties in Assam claim that it will not impact their strategies here though they admit that the Bihar developments are a setback for the �secular� ideology nationwide.

Leaders of various Opposition parties told The Assam Tribune that the political landscape and ideological parameters in Assam are vastly different from those in Bihar.

Major Opposition parties in Assam seem reluctant to embrace the idea of a united front against the BJP-led NDA, at least as far as the electoral arena is concerned.

�The grand alliance in Bihar was formed on the basis of ideology and JD (U) was the major stakeholder in it. Now that Nitish has broken ranks with the Opposition and embraced the BJP, there will no doubt be at least some effect on the Opposition consolidation everywhere in India. But as far as Assam is concerned, there is no Opposition unity here as yet and so the situation is different. Congress remains the principal Opposition in Assam and we are steadfast in our fight against communal forces,� Pradyut Bordoloi, vice president of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) told this newspaper today.

He said that Congress in Assam has already made it clear that it does not want to have any dealings with the AIUDF.

�However, if in future, parties like the CPI, CPI (M) and even the AGP want to reach some minimum understanding with us on an anti-communal platform, we may be open to the idea. There is much resentment within the AGP over its alliance with BJP,� Bordoloi said.

He added that the BJP�s strategy is to gobble up regional forces and smaller parties and cited the latest developments in Bihar, along with happenings in states like Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, as examples.

Hafiz Bashir Ahmed Kasimi, leader of the AIUDF Legislature Party in the Assam Assembly, said the Bihar developments point to the aggressive �Hindutva� agenda of the BJP, which wants to finish off regional forces.

�It will have an effect on Assam and the rest of the country at least to some degree. But in Assam the effect will be marginal because there is no such grand alliance. Here the AIUDF and Congress are the only Opposition forces having any formidable bases of their own. So our leader Badruddin Ajmal has time and again called for having at least some coordination between the two parties as both are opposed to the communal ideology,� Kasimi, who is also general secretary of the AIUDF, said.

Deben Bhattacharya, secretary of the CPI (M) Assam State Committee, said, �Assam is different and so the effect will be minimal. But it is a cause of concern that many regional outfits are moving towards the BJP. That will harm the cause of secularism everywhere.�

He said that the CPI (M) is part of the 11-party Left Democratic Manch in Assam and there is no question of attempting a Bihar style grand alliance in here. �The Left and democratic forces in Assam are against both the BJP and the Congress,� said the Marxist leader.