Assam perfume baron’s party to support AGP in parliamentary polls

March 14th, 2009 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Guwahati, March 14 (IANS) In a surprise move, perfume baron and Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF) leader Badruddin Ajmal Saturday said his party will back candidates of Assam’s main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in next month’s parliamentary elections.

“If we think that some AGP candidates are good and competent with a secular face, then we might help them in some seats to win the elections,” Ajmal told IANS.

Ajmal’s stand is significant as the AGP has a pre-poll tie up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while the AUDF is known to be a party espousing the cause of the minority Muslims in Assam.

“The AGP is not in an alliance with the BJP, but just has a seat sharing arrangement. Our stand is clear, we are not going to support the AGP-BJP combine and would only back AGP candidates wherever we think it does not clash with our own candidates,” the AUDF president said.

Ajmal’s stand comes a day after AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary said his party would have preferred an alliance with the AUDF for better performance in the elections.

“We are fighting Congress and BJP forces. We have no problems with the AGP and still hope we can work out a partnership with the regional party in the future,” the AUDF leader said.

The AUDF was formed just before the 2006 assembly elections and managed to win 10 of the 126 assembly seats thus becoming the third largest party in Assam after the Congress and the AGP.

“We would put candidates in eight to nine seats of the 14 parliamentary seats on our own and hope to win in four to six seats,” Ajmal said.

He himself will contest from two seats - Dhubri and Silchar.

Ajmal said actor Suresh Oberoi is willing to contest the parliamentary elections from Assam on an AUDF ticket.

“I am not ruling out the possibility of fielding Oberoi. Let me tell you filmstars and glamour are today part and parcel of politics…from Dharmendra to Hema Malini and now Sanjay Dutt. Actors are liked by the people,” said Ajmal, a man who is also a Maulana (cleric) from the well-known Muslim seminary in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh.

“We hope some film stars would come for campaigning,” said Ajmal, who has made a fortune by exporting ‘ittar’ or traditional Indian perfume, primarily to the Middle East.

Political analysts and opposition parties are of the view that the AUDF would be a crucial factor in the polls as Muslims account for about 30 percent of Assam’s 26 million people.

“Surely the AUDF would be a major factor in the elections and I have no hesitation in admitting this political reality,” AGP president Patowary told IANS.

But Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress party said AUDF is not a factor and cannot impact the poll outcome.

“It is for the people to judge which party is a factor or could command the support of the voters…why pre-judge the minds of the electorate?” retorted the bearded AUDF leader, skull cap in place.

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