Assam CM Tarun Gogoi on Friday said the upcoming Assembly polls will be a battle between two “generals” — himself and PM Narendra Modi. “He (Modi) is their face. He is BJP’s general. I have also become the general of my party. Both generals will fight each other,” he said. “He is not going to be CM. He will only campaign. Indirectly, it shows the state BJP leaders are incapable of facing me and he doesn’t have confidence in them,” he said.
It seems Gogoi’s stand is inspired by that of Nitish Kumar in the run up to Bihar polls when he projected the election as a fight between the native and the outsider and successfully trumped the high-decibel BJP campaign.
The Assam CM, however, has no plans of forging a grand alliance, as was formed in Bihar. He said he prefers a “maha understanding” over a “mahajot”.
The 79-year-old three-time CM met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday night to finalise the party’s poll strategy. He said Rahul has left it to the state Congress leadership to decide on the alliance question.
“I am going alone. There will be no mahajot. There will be a maha understanding. Understanding among all the parties opposed to communal forces…there will be no seat sharing…understanding means the aim should be the same, to defeat BJP. For example, I say vote for the AGP but not for the BJP. Either vote for me or for any other secular party, but not for the BJP,” he told The Indian Express.
Asom Gana Parishad has made it clear that it would contest the polls, due in April, alone. Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF is another key player, but Congress fears an alliance with the party would drive Hindu voters to BJP camp. Sources said the idea would be to go for “seat-specific tactical understanding”— Congress and AIUDF and possibly AGP will field weak candidates in each others’ bastions.
Gogoi admitted that it would be a “tough” election and quickly added, “every election for me is a tough election.” “There is anti-incumbency to an extent, but my development work will override (it),” he said. On whether he would be his party’s CM face, he said: “Everyone’s face will be there. But I will be the captain,” he said.
Attacking Modi, Gogoi said never before has the country faced so much social disharmony. “Hatred and disharmony, which is visible now, was not there during Vajpayee’s time. Both belong to the same ideology. Look at the suicide incident in Hyderabad. A large section of minorities and Dalits don’t have confidence in the PM.”