In a sudden development weeks ahead of the declaration of results of the Assam assembly elections on May 2, at least 18 AIUDF and two Congress candidates were flown to Jaipur on Friday in an apparent effort to shield them from any attempt of poaching by the ruling BJP.
The AIUDF's organising secretary confirmed the move though party chief Badruddin Ajmal and a Congress spokesperson feigned ignorance.
According to reports in Guwahati-based TV news channels, next in line for the trip to Jaipur are the remaining Congress and 18 Bodoland People's Front (BPF) candidates. Of the 19, one BPF candidate had switched over to BJP just ahead of polling leaving the Tamulpur seat in legal limbo.
“The possibility of BJP indulging in dirty tricks to influence our candidates made us take the decision. Besides, our candidates wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Ajmer Dargah Sharif after the hectic electioneering,” AIUDF organising secretary Md Aminul Islam said.
The AIUDF chief told reporters that he had not sent anyone away and that it could be their personal decision. He, however, was not surprised to talk about possible horse-trading post the results. “This is nothing new, the phenomenon has become part and parcel of India’s politics,” he said adding in the same breath that the grand alliance comprising AIDUF, Congress, and BPF will form the government in Assam. “Even we are ready to do horse-trading,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Bobeeta Sarma, however, said she was not aware of any such plan. “I don’t know,” she said in a WhatsApp message this evening.
Going by the BJP’s initial claims that the party would return to power with more than a hundred of the 126 seats on offer, fears of horse-trading among the rivals are misplaced, for with that many seats in the kitty, the saffron party would not have any need to look for more.
The hundred-plus seat claim was not seen as any exaggeration with an out-of-sorts opposition and the general perception that the ruling party had done well on many a front to deserve another stint in power.
But that was then.
As the campaigning progressed and new alignments took shape, particularly AIDUF and Congress coming together and then joined by the BJP’s one-time ally, the BPF, the saffron party, started scaling down its earlier number to settle at the moment in the eighties which, too, is decent enough to not require any horse-trading in the House of 126.
On the other hand, there was a spring in the step of the Congress-led grand alliance and they started quoting figures in the seventies, which hasn’t actually been laughed away by the BJP either. And it is here that today’s run for safety may have its genesis.
Is a hung assembly also a possibility in Assam then? May 2 will tell.