Ajmal faces tough challenge as Congress fields former MLA from Dhubri

Guwahati: With the Congress fielding former legislator Abu Taher Bepari from Dhubri in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, it may not be a cakewalk for sitting MP and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) Chief Badruddin Ajmal in the Muslim-dominated constituency.

A Congress legislator, Bepari switched to the BJP in 2015 following the then Congress minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. A popular minority leader from Golakganj, along with the Indo-Bangladesh border in Dhubri district of Assam, Bepari is immensely popular, particularly among the religious minorities. He returned to the Congress soon after he was denied a BJP ticket for 2016 assembly polls.

Formed in 2005 by perfume trader Badruddin Ajmal, the AIUDF became the state’s principal opposition party in 2011 by winning 18 assembly seats in 2011. The party also increased its tally to three in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Last year’s panchayat poll results, however, signaled rough weather ahead for the party, which had cashed in on the sentiments of Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam against the backdrop of illegal infiltration from Bangladesh. The AIUDF could win only 26 Zila panchayat seats in the 2018 panchayat polls, compared to 76 seats in 2013, an over 65 percent loss in all the three tiers of the Panchayati Raj system.

“The people in Dhubri have got frustrated as Ajmal had nothing for the constituency, which Ajmal has been holding for the last two terms. There are no roads, no development. Why should we vote for Ajmal this time,” asked Abul Hussain, a teacher of Jaleswar area in Dhubri district, while talking to IANS.

Both Ajmal and his brother Sirajuddin Ajmal, who had won the Barpeta Lok Sabha constituency in 2014, are facing strong anti-incumbency wave this time.

Ajmal had recently said his party is contesting only in three seats to ensure that the division of ‘secular’ votes between the Congress and AIUDF does not help the BJP.

The Dhubri Lok Sabha constituency is going to the polls in the last leg on April 23.

While Ajmal will seek a third consecutive term from Dhubri, the party’s Radheshyam Biswas will seek re-election from Karimganj. For Barpeta, the AIUDF has dropped Sirajudin Ajmal and given the ticket to Hafiz Rafiqul Islam.