Almost at once, Assam’s third front members start bickering

February 9th, 2009 - 11:03 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyGuwahati, Feb 9 (IANS) Cracks have started appearing in Assam’s much hyped third front as soon as it has been glued together, with the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) accusing one of its alliance partners, the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), of violating the agreed seat sharing norms.

AUDF president and perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal announced his candidature for the Silchar parliamentary seat - an announcement that angered the CPI-M..

“How can Ajmal announce his candidature unilaterally without the seat sharing pact being finalised? This is not fair,” said Hemen Das, senior CPI-M leader.

The AUDF, the CPI-M, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) last week announced their decision to work out a seat sharing arrangement to fight the upcoming general elections. The front agreed to field mutually acceptable candidates in eight of the 14 parliamentary seats.

The front was expected to finalise which parties would contest in the remaining six seats later this week. Of the eight seats decided so far, the AUDF would contest in four, and the CPI and the NCP in two seats each.

The idea to form a third front came after the regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) decided to align with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the parliamentary elections in Assam.

Prior to the AGP-BJP pre-poll tie up, there were talks going on for a grand alliance of all non-Congress and non-BJP formations in Assam.

“I am contesting the Silchar seat and I hope our other poll allies would accept my decision. Or else we shall have to think of other means,” Ajmal said, a clear hint that he would stick to his stand of contesting the Silchar seat and was ready to break away from the third alternative.

The spat between the two main partners of the third front - the AUDF and the CPI-M - has already put considerable strain on the fledgling political formation.

“I am the president of a party and hence other parties should respect my decision of contesting the Silchar seat,” Ajmal said.

Another partner of the third front, the CPI, was also sceptical about the AUDF president’s tirade against the Bodo tribal community.

Ajmal in recent days was embroiled in a controversy over his remarks that the Bodos had systematically targeted the Muslims in parts of western and northern Assam.

Frontline Bodo community groups lashed out at Ajmal for his remarks and sought a public apology from him or else threatened not to allow the AUDF to campaign in the Bodo dominated areas.

“This is not the time for provocative statements and all sides should show restraint,” CPI leader Promode Gogoi said.

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