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�Will contest maximum seats in �21 polls�


GUWAHATI, Aug 21 - Congress will contest the largest number of seats among the constituents of the proposed �grand alliance� in the 2021 Assembly polls and the next CM of Assam will be a Congress-person, said ex-Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

Speaking to The Assam Tribune, Gogoi said he, along with other senior Congress leaders, will hold deliberations tomorrow on ways to take forward the grand alliance idea and about formally approaching other opposition parties.

�The Chief Minister will be from the Congress. We will contest the largest number of seats and we will also win the highest number of seats. Therefore, it is hundred per cent sure that the next Chief Minister will be from the Congress party. There is no possibility of leaving the Chief Minister�s post to any other party,� Gogoi said.

Asked about the number of constituencies from which Congress is willing to field its candidates as part of the seat-sharing process, if the grand alliance becomes a reality, Gogoi said, �We will not go for less than 80 seats. We can even go up to 90 seats in maximum. We are, after all, the biggest opposition party and we have our support base all across the State.�

Regarding reports that a section of Congress leaders are opposed to the idea of having the AIUDF as a constituent of the proposed grand alliance, Gogoi said, �Some people may have reservations. That is normal. Similar views may exist in other parties as well. Yes, one or two leaders in our party do not want it. But our core committee has approved the call for a grand alliance. The All India Congress Committee (AICC) had wanted a tie-up with AIUDF way back in 2011 but I had then opposed it.�

Gogoi said, �Even BJP could win in 2016 only after allying with AGP and BPF. Alliance is essential for us as well as the BJP.�

He asserted that a Congress-led government will take over in 2021, if the opposition grand alliance becomes a reality. �If we lose even after forming the grand alliance, I will retire from politics,� he said.

Gogoi, along with State Congress president Ripun Bora, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Debabrata Saikia and CLP deputy leader Rakibul Hussain will sit together tomorrow to finalise plans for taking forward the grand alliance idea and also about formally contacting other anti-BJP parties.

�So far only the idea of a grand alliance has been floated. First, we need to discuss with other parties. Then we must sort out our mutual differences, followed by talks on seat adjustments and finally work on formulating a common minimum programme. Tomorrow we will chalk out a strategy on how to proceed,� he added.

Asked if the Congress could lose its support in upper Assam if the AIUDF is in the proposed alliance, Gogoi said, �There is no reason for such apprehensions. In 2006, I made the �who is Badruddin?� comment. But we lost many seats in upper Assam. I couldn�t have formed government in 2006 if BPF had not supported us. So I am confident we won�t face any backlash due to tie-up with AIUDF.�

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