The Rise Of Ajmal To Assam Election Prominence
Started as a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling against the Illegal Migrants Act, the Assamese political party of 2005 is now being seen the center stage. Formed by a Muslim perfume baron, today, the party is being looked as the frontrunner that could see the Badruddin Ajmal hold the hot seat in the state elections.
The man behind the popular Bengali Muslim party, today is being looked at as a serious contender that could fight for equal rights of all in Assam. Amid this, After the Supreme Court did away with the IMDT, Ajmal raised his voice and gathered, over a dozen political organizations of minorities and formed Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) to revolt against the Supreme Court ruling. The party was later renamed as the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). With the formation of the new party, a sizeable section of the Bengali Muslim population, a traditional Congress vote bank, switched loyalty to AIUDF.
According to the original IMDT Act, procedures were clearly described to detect illegal immigrants (from Bangladesh) and expel them from Assam. It was applicable to the state of Assam only whereas in other states, detection of foreigners is done under The Foreigners Act, 1946.
After the Supreme Court ruling, it was replaced with Foreigners Act (applicable all over India) and did not give undue advantage to illegal immigrants. This was misunderstood as a means of harassment among minorities, especially Bengali Muslims, who had moved to Assam from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in batches over the past century and settled across central and lower Assam.
The traditional Congress vote bank has now finally joined hands with Congress that has ignored the AIUDF for a long time. As BJP eyes power in Assam, the coalition of several smaller parties sees major support for Ajmal, who is known to have carried out a lot of philanthropic work leave alone running a prosperous perfumery business that exports in major parts of Asia.
AIUDF is planning to contest 20 seats while Congress is still going to hold a chunk. It is known that on its part, BJP has been fuelling a religious debate over Congress and AIUDF whose coming together could only mean trouble for indigenous Hindu voters and possible chances of infiltrators from Bangladesh flooding Assam. The party has been attacked with other malicious arguments too. Their AIUDF chief has been shown as anti-national due to his Muslim origins, when Legal Rights Observatory, an NGO with right-wing leanings started to blame Ajmal Foundation (a charitable trust started by Ajmal in 2005) of Foreign (Contribution Regulation) Act violations and taking funds from foreign agencies with terror links.
In March 2020, the same NGO released a doctored video of a speech by Ajmal, which tried to show that if Congress-AIUDF came to power, Assam would turn into an Islamic state. The AIUDF chief denied all charges of misuse of foreign funds and clarified that the video was edited.
All this fuel to malicious rumours, is only firing the determination of a business baron to stand out and Congress is ensuring it can use this to its advantage as it gradually earns traction in the forthcoming second and third phase of the poll.