GUWAHATI, April 11 - With most of the Lok Sabha constituencies of the State that will go to the polls in the second and third phases of the general elections having a substantial concentration of minority voters, political parties have accordingly drawn up strategies to face the electorate in those seats.
While the Congress is seeking to garner the bulk of minority community votes and also capitalise on the fact that the AIUDF is absent from the electoral battle in most of the constituencies this time, the ruling BJP�s strategy is focused on trying to prevent any setbacks that may come about due to consolidation of minority votes against it as well as to tell the people about the dangers posed by what the party terms the �unholy alliance� between the two opposition parties.
Sources in the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) claimed that the response among the minority electorate towards the party has been positive so far.
�While the major issues of the elections are same for all segments of voters, irrespective of caste or community, the minorities have some additional concerns due to the growth of divisive politics that has become noticeable under the BJP regime. So, our motto is �Save democracy, save secularism�,� said a senior Congress leader.
�We have noticed that minority community voters in Assam are very alert. During our campaign so far, we have received very positive response from them. There is a distinct swing in favour of the Congress among voters of the minority community,� he said.
�No doubt, the absence of the AIUDF from the electoral fray in a number of constituencies will help us by facilitating transfer of minority community voters towards us. But we also expect to do well among minorities even in those constituencies where the AIUDF has fielded candidates. Minorities will not waste their votes by supporting the AIUDF. In our campaign in minority-dominated areas, we are telling people that both the AIUDF and the BJP are communal parties which only try to incite people to gain political mileage,� he added.
National-level Congress leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khurshid and Ahmed Patel, are expected to campaign in the constituencies going to the polls in the second and third phases.
�Our list of star campaigners includes Azad and Khurshid. They are likely to campaign widely in constituencies with significant minority community voters. At the same time, they are not leaders whose popularity is confined to just one community. Rather, they have national stature and acceptability among all sections of the electorate. We have asked them, as well as young leaders like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia, to campaign in the State for the second and third phases of the elections,� the Congress leader said.
Minority community voters play a major, and at times even a decisive role in constituencies like Mangaldai, Nagaon, Karimganj and Silchar, which will go to the polls in the second phase on April 18, as well as in Dhubri, Barpeta and Kokrajhar, which are scheduled to vote in the third phase on April 23.
Meanwhile, a senior leader of the State BJP said, �It has always been the attempt of the Congress to create apprehension among Muslim voters regarding the BJP. And this time, they have gone a step further by entering into an �unholy alliance� with the AIUDF. The Congress uses the minorities as a mere vote bank. In contrast, our party has taken a firm stand on issues like triple talaq, and our social welfare schemes have benefited all segments, including the minorities.�
The BJP leader, however, admitted that the Congress was likely to be the main beneficiary on account of the AIUDF�s decision to refrain from contesting in a majority of Lok Sabha seats of Assam.
�During our campaign, we are telling people about the danger Assam faces on account of the Congress-AIUDF tie-up. We are trying to counter it by bringing together and consolidating behind us those segments of the electorate who swear by the ideology of �nationalism� and those who believe in the regional identity and are interested in securing constitutional protection for the indigenous communities of the State,� said the BJP leader.