Pranjal Bhuyan

GUWAHATI, March 25: The BJP’s decision to leave some of the Muslim-dominated constituencies to its ally AGP for the forthcoming Assembly polls has upset many minority community leaders of the saffron party and they believe that it may affect the overall prospects of the ruling NDA in the polls.

Sources in the state BJP Minority Morcha told this newspaper that the ruling coalition could have performed better if the saffron party had contested more Muslim-dominated seats which will go to the polls in the second and third phases of the elections.

“We have a strong organisation in Mankachar but the seat has been left to the AGP. Similar is the case with constituencies like Goalpara East, Goalpara West and South Karimganj. Our party had a fair chance of giving a good fight to the Congress-AIUDF alliance in all these seats. Our local cadres worked hard over the last five years to create a base for the BJP there. Unfortunately, our leadership sacrificed these constituencies,” said a senior state BJP leader.

Only a solitary Muslim candidate from the BJP, Aminul Haque Laskar, from the Sonai constituency, had won in the 2016 Assembly elections. Laskar is now the Deputy Speaker of the Assam Legislative Assembly and has once again been nominated by the BJP from the same seat.

The BJP had earlier said it is targeting to win from at least seven minority-dominated constituencies in the coming elections.

“That target is unlikely to be achieved now. Quite a several minority-dominated constituencies as well as those having a significant proportion of minority community voters have been allotted to the AGP as per the seat-sharing formula. Take the examples of Chenga and Goalpara West. AGP has no base in either place. It does not even have booth committees or panchayat committees at Chenga. Our party at least has good cadre strength as well as local committees there. Yet both were allotted to the AGP. The same is true about Sarukhetri and Bhabanipur. We should have contested a few more seats dominated by Muslim voters,” said another leader of the state BJP’s Minority Morcha.

Ticket allocation has also created some dissatisfaction among ‘old-timers’ of the BJP Minority Morcha.

“We have a very strong chance of winning this time in two minority-dominated seats – Bilasipara West and Laharighat. The BJP has a good presence on the ground and has been able to attract support from voters in both seats. Unfortunately, the party gave tickets to newcomers who joined the BJP only at the eleventh hour and deprived aspirants who have been working among the masses for many years. That has upset our veteran workers and old-time supporters, thus posing some problems. We are trying to calm our cadres and convince them to work for the candidates nominated by the party. If our old-time cadres and supporters cooperate, then the BJP will win both Bilasipara West and Laharighat,” said the leader.

The party is also confident of putting up a good show in Jania and Rupohihat constituencies.

On being contacted, BJP Minority Morcha national executive member Mominul Aowal admitted that the party should have fielded its candidates from more Muslim-dominated constituencies.

He, however, added that the party is confident of getting a good response from the minority community voters of Assam this time.

“Senior leaders, including former Union Minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, have been campaigning extensively across the State. In 2016, we had three lakh minority community cadres in Assam. Since then there has been a big jump in the numbers,” he said.

Aowal claimed that the minorities of Assam have been equal beneficiaries of the government’s social welfare schemes.

“The members of the minority community have seen the performance of our government and I am sure they will use logic instead of emotion while casting their votes,” he said.

He accused the AIUDF and the Congress of trying to polarise the electorate in those parts of the State, which will vote in the second and third phases and where there are several Muslim-dominated constituencies.

“Congress never did anything for the minorities and used them only as vote bank. Congress kept the minorities apart from the other sections of the Assamese society. And the AIUDF uses minorities as raw material for Badruddin Ajmal’s political business,” Aowal added.