Mahanta will be ideal Assam CM: Badruddin Ajmal

By Sidhartha Dutta & Rupesh Dutta

New Delhi : Assam’s veteran Muslim politician Badruddin Ajmal wants to float a secular Third Front to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party away from forming the new government in the border state, but his ideal chief minister candidate is AGP chief Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who has fought the polls in alliance with the BJP.

Support TwoCircles

Ajmal, MP from Dhubri Lok Sabha constituency, in an interview with IANS here said he was anticipating a hung assembly when results for the polls are announced on May 19.

This, he said, was likely to increase the chances of a Third Front of all secular parties, including the Congress, to step in.

“There is a presumption that a Third Front will be formed, including all secular parties, to keep the BJP away from forming a government in Assam,” said Ajmal.

The proposed Third Front would also include the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which have 12 and 10 seats, respectively, in the outgoing assembly.

A scholar from Deoband in Uttar Pradesh and one of India’s richest politicians who made his millions from the family’s perfume businesses, Ajmal is known to wield a huge clout among the Assam Muslim vote bank.

His AIUDF had won 18 seats in the 126-member assembly in the last elections held in 2011. The party also has three Lok Sabha members.

The AIUDF chief — who may become Assam’s next kingmaker post-May 19 — said the idea of forming a Third Front was possible because the “AGP’s (pre-poll) alliance with the BJP is just an eyewash” and none of the parties in Assam would be able to garner majority to form a government on its own.

Political parties have already started looking for re-arranging their combinations, he said.

“The Congress will also project Prafulla Kumar Mahanta as the chief minister if they are not able to form the government on their own. Even I suggested his name. He is the ideal person to become the CM,” Ajmal said.

Asked why would Mahanta support the Third Front, Ajmal said: “It is their (AGP’s) compulsion. They have been out of power for the last 15 years. If they carry on with the BJP and are still not able to form the government, then they will be finished.”

He said that it was “impossible” for the BJP to make a dent in the politics of Assam where “communalism has never worked”.

“It is a land of love and peace between different faiths and communities.”

He dismissed as “rumour” reports that he had secretly aligned with the BJP. “There is an ideological difference between the BJP and us. They are anti-Muslims and have always hurt the sentiments of Muslims. Even if we get signal from them, we’ll not support them. It is against our faith,” said Ajmal.

He projected AIUDF to get 30-plus seats in the next assembly but said he himself was not a contender for the post of the next chief minister.

“If we secure more than 24 seats, then the entire political scenario of Assam will change….”

On the issue of illegal migrants, he said: “There should be a law … to identify illegal migrants, and to deport them back to Bangladesh.”