Assam polls: Congress mulling to move candidates on 'fears of poaching'

Express News Service
GUWAHATI: Apprehending poaching by the BJP, the Congress is trying to keep its Assam flocks together ahead of the declaration of Assembly election results on May 2.

The Congress leaders held a closed-door meeting with party candidates at a hotel on the outskirts of Guwahati on Saturday, so what transpired there was not known.

The party said one must not read too much into it as only “general discussions” were held on the preparation for the counting day. The meeting comes amidst reports that the Congress has plans to shift the candidates to some hotels in Guwahati, Tezpur, and Kaziranga on April 22 and keep them out of bounds from poachers.

The three-phase polls, held in March and April, were keenly contested between the BJP-led ruling coalition, which also has Asom Gana Parishad and United People’s Party Liberal, and the Congress-led 10-party grand alliance of Opposition.

The Congress tried to put up a brave face by exuding confidence that it will get the majority and as such, had no fears about horse-trading.

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“The Mahajot (grand alliance) will get a big majority and its candidates are not going anywhere,” AICC general secretary and in-charge of Assam, Jitendra Singh told journalists ahead of the meeting.

Given some past incidents, the Congress leadership gave certain directions to party candidates on the preparation for the counting day.

“We have no trust in the Election Commission. We all know that 171 votes were cast in a booth that had 90 eligible voters. Also, a polled EVM was retrieved from the car of a BJP candidate (who is also an MLA),” Singh said.

The candidates of Congress ally All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) had returned to the state on Friday night from Rajasthan as the COVID cases were increasing exponentially there.

Singh said, “They had gone to Rajasthan after a hectic schedule of the election campaign and returned to Assam after offering their prayers at the Ajmer Sharif”.

An AIUDF candidate said they had a discussion with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot during their stay in that state.

Earlier, another AIUDF candidate, Aminul Islam had expressed apprehension that the BJP might try to cobble up numbers by indulging in horse-trading after the declaration of election results. He had pointed out the party had adopted this tactic in several states, including Meghalaya, Manipur, and Goa.