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Monday, April 12, 2021

The other Ajmal: Sirajuddin returns to contest from Jamnamukh

As coalition looks to form govt, AIUDF chief’s younger brother Sirajuddin returns to contest from family bastion.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati |
Updated: April 1, 2021 8:13:56 am
AIUDF candidate from the Jamunamukh constituency Sirajuddin Ajmal at an election campaign rally at Doboka in Hojai district, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Whether the BJP or the Congress, AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal has been at the centre of campaigns both sides this election. Little of that attention, if any, has reflected onto his younger brother Sirajuddin, 63, a former MP in the race from the family pocketborough Jamnamukh, which votes on April 1.

But then Sirajuddin is used to living in Ajmal’s shadow. He is associated with the family’s perfume business led by Ajmal, that is spread over 50 countries, particularly in the Middle East and South East Asia, and plays an important role in the Ajmal Foundation, overseeing the family’s philanthropic activities. At Rs 111 crore declared assets, Sirajuddin is one of the richest candidates in the Assam poll fray.

Sirajuddin returns to Jamunamukh in Hojai district after having twice won in earlier, in 2006 and 2011. With the AIUDF looking at the possibility of being in power for the first time — as part of the Congress-led Mahajot — this is a calculated move by Ajmal, sources say. Given his experience, Sirajuddin is sure to be part of the new Cabinet if the Mahajot wins, even as Ajmal continues to represent the AIUDF at the Centre.

After his stint in the Assembly, Sirajuddin had moved to the Lok Sabha in 2014, winning from Barpeta. He didn’t contest in 2019 due to health issues.

The AIUDF represents Assam’s large Bengali-origin Muslim community, that has been at the receiving end of the BJP’s poll rhetoric. The party has constantly stoked fears of illegal immigration by saying there would be unstopped influx should the AIUDF come to power.

In the outgoing Assembly, the AIUDF holds 14 seats. It is contesting 19 this time, including five seats where it is in ‘friendly’ contests with Mahajot allies.

Jamunamukh, with a large Muslim population, is one of the AIUDF’s safest seats, with the Ajmal family hailing from Hojai district. The sitting MLA is Ajmal’s son Abdur Rahim Ajmal, 35, who has given way to uncle Sirajuddin this time.

Ajmal too had contested his first election for MLA from here in 2006, apart from another constituency, South Salmara. He had then vacated Jamunamukh for Sirajuddin. On Tuesday, the Mahajot held a massive rally in the constituency. Among those who addressed the gathering were Ajmal and Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, who heads the Anchalik Gana Morcha, a new party that is part of the alliance.

Ajmal thanked Janmamukh voters on social media, saying. “They have again proven that the association of Jamunamukh and Ajmal family is to be continued for many more years.”

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