Asserting that unlike in the 2016 assembly elections, "no Modi wave" has gripped Assam in the assembly polls this time, AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal on Sunday alleged that Bhartiya Janata Party was trying to polarise the Hindu community by pointing at him, invoking the 'Mughals' and portraying Muslims as enemies. He added that however, the ruling party will not succeed.
Dismissing the saffron party's allegation of communalism against his All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) as "baseless", the party founder Ajmal claimed "no outfit was more secular" than his party in Assam, and cited the AIUDF giving substantial representation to non-Muslims in elections in the past.
In an interview with PTI, Ajmal said the Assam election would be a "turning point" for the country as the BJP's defeat will begin from the state. The grand alliance, of which it is a part of along with the Congress, is fighting hard for it, he said.
The BJP will be defeated in the polls in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, and this will send a message to the entire country, he said, exuding confidence that "secular forces" will win.
The AIUDF is secular and will always remain so. But since the BJP is itself "communal" and plays communal politics, it looks at others through that lens, Ajmal said.
"The BJP doesn't have any development issue to talk about. They talked about jobs last time, could not provide any. At the national level, they talked about getting black money back, instead sent black money abroad," he alleged.
The BJP has not been able to solve the farmers' issue also, he told PTI over phone.
Asserting that almost every other day industries are shuttering in Assam, he said the AIUDF has promised that as soon as it comes to power, two paper mills that were closed down, will be revived.
"Last time (in 2016) when Narendra Modi campaigned here there was a wave. But there is no Modi wave this time. He has visited five times, but has been unable to generate any wave," Ajmal claimed.
"By showing my face, by portraying Muslims as enemies, and making communal comments, the BJP wants to polarise Hindus, but unlike last time, they will not succeed," he said.
On its tie-up with the Congress and forming the 'Mahajot' alliance, the Lok Sabha MP from Dhubri said after seeing that wherever opposition parties were coming together along with the Congress, results were good, his party decided to forge the alliance.
"I have been a part of the UPA for the last 15 years at the Centre, so it was important that we come together. Some people were not allowing it. But things fell in place. The Congress high command also gave the green signal and a grand alliance of seven parties has been formed, and we are confident of succeeding," Ajmal said.
There is a wave against the BJP and that will benefit the grand alliance, he added.
On the recent controversy surrounding a "doctored" video of his doing the rounds on social media, Ajmal alleged that the BJP doesn't have anything to say against his party so they are coming up with such tactics.
He said action has been taken by Twitter over those who were behind the "doctored" video.
"There is only one party in the country that talks about Hindutva and that is the BJP. If somebody is talking about Ram Mandir, it is the BJP. We are neither raising this nor making it an issue," Ajmal said.
Asked about the key issue in Assam polls, he said the main issue is of tea garden workers and his party will strongly fight for their rights.
"The Citizenship (Amendment) Act is another big issue. We are opposing it and so is the Congress party. We were against it, are against it and will remain against it," he asserted.
With the AIUDF expected to fight on 21 seats as part of the grand alliance headed by Congress, Ajmal said it could have contested 30-31 seats but decided to sacrifice for the sake of the alliance to prevent a division of opposition votes.
"Earlier, we lost seats between our party and the Congress. So, we thought that let us sacrifice this time but prevent a division of votes. We agreed to take fewer seats, but we expect to win 90-95 per cent of the seats we are contesting," he said, adding that the grand alliance taking on the ruling BJP will get a majority in the Assam polls.
On BJP leader and state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's repeated attacks on him and invoking the erstwhile Mughal rule, Ajmal said, "He (Sarma) has lost it. He had done good work under the Congress, but now after going to the BJP he is talking completely opposite of what he earlier said."
The BJP doesn't have anything else to say, so it is using "Badruddin Ajmal's face, calling me a Mughal. What do I have to do with the Mughals?" the AIUDF chief said.
"Sarma has no developmental issue to talk about on which he can create a miracle. So, he is attacking me thinking that by doing so they can polarise votes," he said.
The BJP has not been able to fulfil the promises made to the people and is lying continuously, he alleged, asserting that people's memories are not so weak that they can be duped easily.
The AIUDF and the Congress are contesting the forthcoming polls as a part of the 'Grand Alliance' along with the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), CPI(M), CPI, CPI-ML and the Anchalik Gana Morcha.
Elections to the 126-member Assam assembly will be held in three phases on March 27, April 1 and April 6.