Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi did not hold back. His party, the Congress, would strike an alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), he said, and would have no problems if the powerful All Assam Students' Union (AASU) chooses to stay out of the coalition and with its soon-to-be-floated political unit.
The three-time chief minister's optimistic views, however, did not seep deep into the party machinery, or to be precise the honchos of Assam Pradesh Congress.
Merely hours after the assertive remarks on August 18, top Congress leaders including leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia, Pradyut Bordoloi, Member of Parliament Abdul Khalek, former minister Wazed Ali Choudhury and AICC general secretary Bhupen Borah assembled at a hotel in Guwahati to discuss the conclusion of the core committee meeting and its fallout.
“Our decision at the core committee was that all forces representing the tribes, communities, ethnic groups and individuals who inherit the motive to uproot the BJP in the state shall be a part of the grand alliance. We have welcomed all student forces into the ambit of the grand alliance, whether they unite or not is up to their discretion. We are in no mood to compromise on any aspects which shall catalyse the rooting out of the BJP,” said Bhupen Borah.
"We have contested elections against Asom Gana Parishad which formed out of the AASU and have also lost elections to them earlier," added Ripun Bora, president of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) .
Debabrata Saika was involved in an extended discussion with Ripun Bora the following morning too. The meeting which went on for several hours is believed to have delved into the avenues and prospects of the grand alliance and the constituents of the alliance that would help materialise the Congress's 'mission 80' in the 2021 Assam assembly elections.
“Gogoi sir is our senior-most leader. He was elected Member of Parliament in 1972. He is free to give his personal views. However, yesterday in the core committee, we stressed that there should be no division of votes which would give the BJP the advantage. When needed, we will contact AASU and other like-minded parties. Politics has its own dynamics and nothing is permanent,” Saikia said.
The Assam Congress has also clarified that the concept of grand alliance is yet to get the seal of approval of its prime constituent, the AIUDF. “It has been five months that our leader Maulana Badruddin Ajmal is in Mumbai. Once he comes down here, things will be discussed and analysed before we reach a conclusion,” said Nizanur Rehman, MLA of Gauripur constituency of Dhubri district in Assam.
However, retracting from his previous remarks on the alliance with AASU, former CM Gogoi said, “I have never said that I do not want AASU. It's AASU who expressed their displeasure on aligning with the Congress. I personally feel that AASU will be on the sidelines if they do not come with us. I have never said that we are constituting the grand alliance only with AIUDF. I have mentioned about KMSS, CPI and CPM also...I am not informed about any informal meeting of a few leaders of the Congress; at least APCC is not informed about it."