Cong, AIUDF trade charges

Guwahati, Jan. 31: From police cases and complaints before the state election commission to offering unsolicited lessons in practising what one preaches, a wary Congress has upped the ante against Opposition AIUDF after the completion of the first phase of panchayat polls yesterday.

Forest minister Rakibul Hussain today said district party leaders had slapped three police cases ' one each in Nagaon Sadar, Rupahihat and Juria police stations ' against AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal last night and had also lodged a formal complaint against him before the commission for allegedly using provocative language, criminal intimidation and fanning enmity between groups.

Nagaon district Congress leaders Tapan Lal Sharma, Abul Hashem Khanaker and Abul Hussain filed the police cases and moved two complaints to the state election commission on January 28 and 30, which have not reached the poll panel. The election commission, however, confirmed having received a complaint from Rajiv Bhawan this evening.

Cases and complaints apart, parliamentary secretary Bhupen Kumar Borah, told The Telegraph that Ajmal was not a true disciple of Hazrat Mohammad given the manner in which he was lying to the masses during campaigning. "He votes for the Congress-led UPA during Rajya Sabha and presidential polls and in Parliament but asks voters in Assam to vote against us. How can he claim to be a true follower of the Prophet when he does not practise what he himself preaches?" Borah asked.

Borah's stocks have risen in minority-concentrated districts since he publicly attacked coalition partner Bodoland People's Front (BPF) by questioning their role in the Kokrajhar riots.

Though the BPF moved the commission against Borah, neither chief minister Tarun Gogoi nor PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita have said anything against Borah, which, sources said, was a calculated move to reach out to the minorities who are apparently unhappy with Dispur for the manner in which it tackled the riots.

Borah's attack on Ajmal also appears to be a well thought-out strategy, one which will appeal to secular voters, who see Ajmal as a communal force, in the subsequent phases, sources said. The developments indicate the wariness of the Congress, which sees the AIUDF as its main threat in the minority-concentrated districts, most of which go to the polls in the remaining two phases on February 6 and 12.

In Guwahati, AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam dismissed the cases and complaints as "nothing new" and an attempt to brand the AIUDF a "communal" party. Ajmal, addressing a poll rally at Tamarhat in Dhubri district, appealed to the voters to throw out the "corrupt" Congress. He accused the Gogoi government of allegedly hatching a "conspiracy to check the rising AIUDF".

"The Congress has failed to provide security to the minorities and that is why lakhs of displaced people took shelters in camps in search of security and food," Ajmal said. He said branding the displaced people as Bangladeshis by BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani and terming the BTAD flare-up a fight between the Bodos and Bangladeshis had boomeranged as the displaced were "found" to be Indian citizens.

His tone and tenor was the same in Moterjhar. Criticising the Congress and the AGP for their lack of initiative to develop the district, Ajmal said his party had demanded conversion of DK Road in Kochugaon into a national highway as well as a medical college, a university and jute-based industries.

Seeking votes for BPF candidate Bahar Ali, the party's Gauripur legislator Banendra Kumar Mushahary asked the people at a rally at Alomganj Bazaar not to waste their votes on the AIUDF which had not been able to form the zila parishad.

State election commissioner Biren Dutta today said the average voter turnout in the first phase was 73.29 per cent and that there will be repolling in seven booths tomorrow ' two each in Lakhimpur and Golaghat and one each in Tinsukia, Dhemaji and Majuli ' for error in ballot papers and ballot-snatching in one station.

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