GUWAHATI, Aug 22 - As politicking gained momentum within the opposition Congress ahead of next year�s Assembly elections, a section of legislators and leaders today made a renewed attempt to impress upon the party to go for �grand alliance� instead of the lone tie-up with the AIUDF.
Party sources said former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today held at least three separate meetings with leaders and MLAs of the party in batches.
�While different issues regarding the upcoming elections were discussed, the matter of alliance was also taken up. We told the leadership that many of us are not keen on having solitary tie-up with AIUDF. To stop the BJP juggernaut, we should go for a grand alliance with the like-minded parties, of which the AIUDF can be a part,� a senior party leader told The Assam Tribune.
�We should speak to all other parties and see if we can make some adjustments and give shape to a common minimum programme,� he said.
Leaders of the party, particularly those in upper Assam, are worried that the truck with AIUDF alone may hit the party in upper Assam.
�During the last elections, the BJP had played up a photograph of Gogoi and Ajmal together to their advantage. We do not want a similar situation now,� another senior leader said.
Some senior legislators of the party � who were openly up against the alliance with the AIUDF � were allegedly not invited for today�s series of meetings.
Senior party leader Rana Goswami told this newspaper that discussions are being held with some tribal organisations and Left parties for an alliance. �Discussions are being held at various levels. Even we are talking to some groups. Details will be revealed once things take shape,� he added.
Meanwhile, former CM Tarun Gogoi today ruled himself out of the chief ministerial race. �I am not a CM candidate. I have said this before. But I will contest the elections,� he told journalists on the sidelines of the party meetings.
He also rubbished allegations that he was making way for his son and said, �He is an MP now. He is not here. I don�t know if he returns to the State later.�
Insisting that the Congress alliance would get around 80 seats, he pooh-poohed BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma for asserting that the combined Congress-AIUDF tally may not cross 35 seats. �Can he say he will quit politics if we get more than 35 seats,� Gogoi wondered.