With dissent coming to the fore in the BJP ever since the saffron party announced its alliance with regional parties Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), the Congress, weighed down by anti-incumbency feelings and in a moribund state of late, has been on a high. On Tuesday, several leaders from the opposition alliance joined the party, giving it a boost in the run-up to next month’s Assembly elections.
The two senior BJP leaders who joined the Congress are Sankar Prasad Ray, the previous president of All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU), and noted lawyer Sabda Ram Rabha, both ‘victims’ of the saffron party’s new alliances. “I was cheated. I had joined the BJP in September last year with the assurance that I would be given the party ticket for Bongaigaon constituency,” Ray said. “But the alliance means the Bongaigaon seat was allotted to the regional party (AGP).”
Rabha, who had quit AGP and joined the BJP before 2014 Lok Sabha election and was hoping to contest from Tamulpur, also said he felt ignored after BJP left the constituency for the BPF. “My experience with the AGP, and a short stint in the BJP, has compelled me to believe that the Congress is the only party that really bothers about the tribals,” he said.
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The Congress also scored a point over Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF, with two prominent legislators — Sherman Ali and Ataur Rahman Majhar Bhuyan — joining the ruling party on Tuesday. While Ali had won from Baghbor LAC in Barpeta district in 2011, Bhuyan is an MLA from Katogora LAC in Cachar district.
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Another important gain for the Congress Tuesday was Biswajit Ray, president of the All Koch-Rajbangshi Students’ Union (AKRSU). “Koch-Rajbangshis have been repeated deceived by the BJP with the promise of the Scheduled Tribes (status. They (BJP) took Koch-Rajbangshis’ support in 2014 Lok Sabha elections with this promise, but there has been no development for nearly two years after they came to power. “What is the use of supporting BJP,” Ray asked.
Welcoming these leaders to the Congress fold, an elated Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the wind has picked up in favour of his party in Assam. “More leaders from the BJP, AGP and AIUDF are joining us soon,” he claimed.
Opposing the regional party’s tie-up, AGP vice-president Durga Das-Boro had last week joined the Congress.