Development, security election issues in Assam, not Ajmal or AIUDF: BJP state chief

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By Trideep Lahkar Guwahati, Mar 17 (PTI) A battery of leaders belonging to the saffron party might have focussed on Badruddin Ajmal and his party AIUDF, allegedly 'out to divide the country', while campaigning in Assam, but the party's state unit chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass has said, development and security are the only two issues for the approaching assembly polls.

From Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president J P Nadda, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, to senior NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, leaders of the saffron party have been raising the issue of Ajmal, president of the AIDUF, and the party's alliance with the Congress for the assembly polls.

'The official campaign of BJP is centred around two aspects -- development and security of Assam. There is no other theme,' Dass told PTI in an interview here.

Replying to a specific question if Ajmal or 'clash of civilisation' is an election issue for the BJP, the former speaker said, 'No, that is not our official statement. It may be an individual agenda of one or two persons.' Killings, extortions and kidnapping were the norm in Bodoland areas before 2014, but the region is peaceful today after all the insurgent groups laid down arms and were brought to the mainstream, he said.

'All the killings of minority people took place only during Congress rule. In our tenure, not a single person from the minority community has been touched, forget about killing.

That is the difference,' Dass said.

The Congress, which was in power for 15 years in Assam since 2001, has formed a 'Grand Alliance' with the AIUDF, BPF, CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM), RJD and the Jimochayan (Deori) Peoples Party (JPP) to fight the assembly polls against the BJP-led NDA.

On March 14, Shah had launched a scathing attack on the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi for entering into alliances with political parties who are 'out to divide the country', and asserted that the BJP does not practise vote- bank politics.

'Now, if you vote for Congress, your vote will go to Ajmal's AIUDF and ultimately it will bring in infiltrators.

You have to decide whether you want a government, who shelters them or a government who will oust them,' he had said.

The following day, Nadda slammed the Congress for 'embracing' the AIUDF, a party once rejected by then Congress chief minister late Tarun Gogoi.

'What has happened to the Congress? When Tarun Gogoi was chief minister for 15 years, he never allied with the AIUDF. But today, they are with the AIUDF. Why? Is it only because of winning elections and grabbing power?' Rajnath Singh had asked.

Apart from BJP's national leaders, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and senior NEDA Convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma are aggressively criticising the Congress for joining hands with Ajmal, saying this election is to stop the AIUDF chief from becoming the chief minister of Assam.

Sarma had even alleged that the Congress has 'communally polarised' the election atmosphere by joining hands with Ajmal, the Lok Sabha MP from Dhubri, and it will benefit the ruling NDA alliance.

'My personal campaign theme is clash of culture.

Jati-Mati-Bheti (community, land, homeland) was a defensive statement. Now it is time to be offensive. For the next five years, it should be a victory of culture,' Sarma had said.

The BJP is contesting this election in an alliance with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People's Party Liberal (UPPL), who are part of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) -- the regional arm of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The 2016 elections in Assam gave a fractured mandate and no party got an absolute majority.

The BJP became the single largest party with 60 MLAs, while its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People's Front (BPF) had won 14 and 12 seats respectively. The ruling coalition also had the support of an Independent MLA.

The Congress had won 26 seats, while the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) bagged 13. PTI TR MM MM