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Riding on back of anti-CAA stir, Cong confident of 2021 hustings

By PRANJAL BHUYAN

GUWAHATI, Dec 23 - The principal Opposition Congress believes that it can capitalise on the ongoing movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, or the CAA and emerge as the alternative to the ruling BJP in the run-up to the 2021 Legislative Assembly election.

The grand old party is also of the opinion that it will not be easy for a �third force� or a new regional party, if such an outfit emerges, to win the trust of the masses in the electoral arena, considering the �track record� of regional forces in the State during the past few decades.

�People are now looking for an alternative. BJP has lost a lot of ground in Assam during recent weeks due to the CAA. We are hopeful of emerging as the primary alternative to the saffron party. However, at the same time, we admit that the CAA will not be the only factor during the 2021 election. We must convince the voters of Assam that Congress party can address their concerns regarding the economic downturn, tackle issues like unemployment and price rise, protect the Constitution and democratic rights of the masses, while at the same time also safeguard the interests of the indigenous communities,� a senior Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) office-bearer told this newspaper.

He added that the ongoing agitation against the CAA is a �spontaneous movement� and the protesters are not agitating under the leadership of any political party or even under any non-political students� organisation.

�This is especially true in Upper Assam. This is turning out to be a real people�s movement. While protesting the BJP�s decision to implement the CAA, the people of Assam have also not embraced the Congress or any other party. We are only �assisting� the agitation by organising protests of our own. So it will take some time before things become clearer as to whether the Assamese people will accept us or any other party as an alternative. That is why during our agitational programmes, including our State-wide padayatra which began from Sadiya on Sunday, we are focusing on other �anti-people� policies of the BJP government, along with highlighting the issue of CAA,� said the APCC leader.

He added, �agitations and elections may have relation, but they are not alike. Besides, Assembly elections here are still a year-and-a-half away. Therefore, while the anti-CAA movement may have provided us an opportunity to try and reach out to the masses on a particular issue, it will take a great deal of effort to win back their trust fully. After all, there are many in Assam who still believe that the Congress party patronises Muslim Bangladeshi immigrants, just like the BJP is seeking to do with regard to Bangladeshi Hindus.�

To counter such perceptions, the Congress party is seeking to reach out among the masses with the message of ensuring adequate safeguards in the interest of the indigenous communities, while also addressing concerns related to economy, welfare of tea garden workers, and other bread and butter issues.

Regarding the likelihood of a new regional political outfit emerging from the ongoing anti-CAA movement, a senior Congress leader said, �We will welcome formation of such a party.�

Asked if a new regional political party could hurt Congress� prospects in Assam, he said, �Though at first sight it may seem that a new regional party could split the anti-BJP votes, one must also recollect recent history. �Regional aspirations� are very strong in Assam. However, the regional politics of the last three and half decades in the State have been one of betrayal and lost faith. From the time following signing of the Assam Accord till now, the so-called regional parties have betrayed the people. So we believe that the voters of Assam will consider us a better alternative to the BJP.�

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Riding on back of anti-CAA stir, Cong confident of 2021 hustings

GUWAHATI, Dec 23 - The principal Opposition Congress believes that it can capitalise on the ongoing movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, or the CAA and emerge as the alternative to the ruling BJP in the run-up to the 2021 Legislative Assembly election.

The grand old party is also of the opinion that it will not be easy for a �third force� or a new regional party, if such an outfit emerges, to win the trust of the masses in the electoral arena, considering the �track record� of regional forces in the State during the past few decades.

�People are now looking for an alternative. BJP has lost a lot of ground in Assam during recent weeks due to the CAA. We are hopeful of emerging as the primary alternative to the saffron party. However, at the same time, we admit that the CAA will not be the only factor during the 2021 election. We must convince the voters of Assam that Congress party can address their concerns regarding the economic downturn, tackle issues like unemployment and price rise, protect the Constitution and democratic rights of the masses, while at the same time also safeguard the interests of the indigenous communities,� a senior Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) office-bearer told this newspaper.

He added that the ongoing agitation against the CAA is a �spontaneous movement� and the protesters are not agitating under the leadership of any political party or even under any non-political students� organisation.

�This is especially true in Upper Assam. This is turning out to be a real people�s movement. While protesting the BJP�s decision to implement the CAA, the people of Assam have also not embraced the Congress or any other party. We are only �assisting� the agitation by organising protests of our own. So it will take some time before things become clearer as to whether the Assamese people will accept us or any other party as an alternative. That is why during our agitational programmes, including our State-wide padayatra which began from Sadiya on Sunday, we are focusing on other �anti-people� policies of the BJP government, along with highlighting the issue of CAA,� said the APCC leader.

He added, �agitations and elections may have relation, but they are not alike. Besides, Assembly elections here are still a year-and-a-half away. Therefore, while the anti-CAA movement may have provided us an opportunity to try and reach out to the masses on a particular issue, it will take a great deal of effort to win back their trust fully. After all, there are many in Assam who still believe that the Congress party patronises Muslim Bangladeshi immigrants, just like the BJP is seeking to do with regard to Bangladeshi Hindus.�

To counter such perceptions, the Congress party is seeking to reach out among the masses with the message of ensuring adequate safeguards in the interest of the indigenous communities, while also addressing concerns related to economy, welfare of tea garden workers, and other bread and butter issues.

Regarding the likelihood of a new regional political outfit emerging from the ongoing anti-CAA movement, a senior Congress leader said, �We will welcome formation of such a party.�

Asked if a new regional political party could hurt Congress� prospects in Assam, he said, �Though at first sight it may seem that a new regional party could split the anti-BJP votes, one must also recollect recent history. �Regional aspirations� are very strong in Assam. However, the regional politics of the last three and half decades in the State have been one of betrayal and lost faith. From the time following signing of the Assam Accord till now, the so-called regional parties have betrayed the people. So we believe that the voters of Assam will consider us a better alternative to the BJP.�

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