Badruddin Ajmal, whose family business of perfumes is more than Rs. 2,000 crore, is well-known as perfume king. But in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Assam, he is pitching himself as the kingmaker.
“I won’t say how many seats we will win but nobody will form the government without us,” Mr Ajmal told NDTV.
His party, the All India United Democratic Front or AIUDF, may be just 10 years old only but has the largest following among Muslims who make up 34 per cent of Assam’s population.
Out of the 126 Assembly seats, Muslims are a determining factor in as many as 40 seats. Mr Ajmal’s party had won 18 of them in the 2011 Assembly polls.
A repeat performance by the AIUDF and a split verdict could make him a key player in deciding who forms the next government in Assam. Mr Ajmal had suggested a Bihar-like ‘Grand Alliance’ with the Congress in the state but it didn’t work out. But is a post-poll alliance with the Congress possible?
“After the election, our core committee will decide. l can’t take decision on my own,” says the perfume baron.
The Congress, that faces a 15-year-old anti-incumbency, maintains they wouldn’t need him post-poll. “He has always maintained that he would be kingmaker but we have formed the government on our own. This time too, the situation wouldn’t arise,” said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
With the emergence of the BJP as a major player in Assam, Congress wants to avoid a campaign that would polarise Hindus and the Muslims. Congress strategists argued that would give an advantage to the BJP.
The BJP, on the other hand, claims their politics simply won’t allow any understanding with Mr Ajmal even if they fall short of the majority mark of 64 seats. “Absolutely no question whatsoever of going with Ajmal. Water and oil never mix together,” asserts Siddharth Bhattacharya, the former BJP chief in Assam, who will contest from the prestigious East Guwahati seat.
Political parties may well have to revise their position if pollsters are proven accurate that Assam’s 2016 verdict will throw up a hung Assembly. –NDTV
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