CPI(M) LS candidate Manoranjan Talukdar critics of Congress for lack of opposition unity in Barpeta

Blaming Congress for ”failing” to put up a united candidate in Barpeta Lok Sabha constituency, where another opposition party TMC too is contesting, CPI(M) nominee Manoranjan Talukdar feared that anti-BJP vote will be divided and it may create ‘ ‘some difficulties” for him.

Talukdar, however, expressed optimism that he will give a ”tough fight” against all opponents and will win the election from Barpeta, which has become a Hindu-majority seat after the delimitation exercise last year.

”This is unfortunate and Congress is only responsible for what happened in the constituency. We had talked about contesting from Barpeta a long time ago… A wrong message has gone because of the opposition parties fighting separately,” he told PTI in an interview here.

From the ruling front, AGP has nominated senior leader, former minister and sitting Bongaigaon MLA Phani Bhusan Choudhury to contest from Barpeta. Congress nominated its state Seva Dal chief Deep Bayan, while TMC has named Abul Kalam Azad for the seat.

Congress, CPI(M) and TMC are members of the United Opposition Forum Assam (UOFA), formed in the state with 16 parties in line with the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).

”The Congress gave an excuse that we needed a face to contest from Barpeta and Manoranjan Talukdar should be the face. We agreed to it and declared my candidature. Despite that, Congress gave its candidate here,” said Talukdar, the lone MLA of the CPI(M) in Assam Assembly.

He pointed out that 77 leading intellectuals from the state had appealed to Congress to withdraw their nominee so that only one opposition candidate remained in the field to take on the NDA contestant, but the grand old party did not listen and decided to remain in the contest .

On TMC giving a candidate in Barpeta, Talukdar claimed that the West Bengal-based party does not have any influence in Assam, organization or office, and it has no presence at the booth level.

Asked if failure to have a unanimous candidate will cost the opposition bloc, he said: ”Some votes will obviously be divided because of Congress, but there will be no impact due to TMC or any other party. Due to Congress, there might be some difficulties here.” The veteran Left leader, however, exuded confidence and said he will ”give a tough fight and will win”.

Barpeta is presently represented by Congress MP Abdul Khaleque, who had resigned from the party last month after he was denied a ticket. However, he later withdrew the resignation following a meeting with Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi.

When asked if Barpeta becoming a Hindu-majority seat has made the equation more challenging for the opposition, especially the CPI(M), Talukdar said: ”CPI(M) had opposed the latest delimitation from the beginning. BJP’s agenda was to execute delimitation by dividing the constituencies communally.

”We are approaching minorities and majorities both with real issues. That is the real strength and it gives us acceptance. We are being received very well here. Our approach is secular and so getting support from both sides.” From Barpeta, three Muslim majority assembly seats have been added to Dhubri Lok Sabha constituency, while three other Hindu-dominated assembly segments have been included in Barpeta, he added.

There are nearly 19.8 lakh voters in Barpeta, a religiously and linguistically sensitive place, and around seven lakh of them are Muslim electors.

On AGP’s Choudhury, who is the longest-serving MLA of Assam for eight consecutive terms since 1985, Talukdar said: ”It is a myth that he has a huge support base. He has influence in only two constituencies — Bongaigaon and Abhayapuri, where Koch-Rajbongshi community is the dominant factor.” ”As he is from that community, he has the support in that area. I don’t consider him as a big leader. He won eight times by indulging in community-based politics. His leadership quality is not very appreciable. I have spent three years with him in Assembly and he has not spoken even three sentences in this period,” the CPI(M) candidate said.

AGP’s support base in other areas have declined in the last few years and it has almost vanished in some locations, he claimed.

”While going to different areas, we have seen that their influence on Assamese-speaking people has nosedived. AGP’s strength was regionalism, but it turned into a nationalist party in 2001 after joining hands with BJP,” the CPI(M) leader said.

He also claimed that AGP’s stand on Citizenship (Amendment) Act has also cost the regional party its base as it was the same party which was born out of Assam Agitation and its leaders were instrumental in getting the Assam Accord.

Talking about his campaigning, Talukdar said he is seeking votes on issues like price rise, unemployment, flood and erosion havoc of Assam, pension scheme and CAA.

”CAA is an important issue as Assamese people are very angry. Nobody wants to accept the CAA. Earlier, there was a big movement. But as the election came, so no such big agitation has taken place. However, the entire opposition is against CAA. Our party’s stand is very clear that we don’t accept the CAA. It is a vital issue in this election,” he added.

The communist leader said he is raising the issue of electoral bonds with youths, who are understanding the ”scam committed by BJP” very well.

The veteran politician also claimed that the ruling BJP-led NDA will get 6-7 seats only out of 14 in Assam during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

”BJP is facing a tough contest this time. Their claim of winning 12 seats will not happen,” he added.

The BJP has nine MPs in the current Lok Sabha from the state, while its allies AGP and UPPL have no representation. The Congress holds three seats and the AIUDF one, while another is an Independent candidate.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)