Congress moves to keep Assam candidates together


Party leaders hold closed-door meeting with candidates at Guwahati.

After the candidates of one of its allies returned from Rajasthan on Friday in view of the COVID-19 surge, Congress has reportedly booked a few hotels across Assam to “insulate” its candidates from possible poaching by the BJP.

The candidates are expected to be kept out of bounds till the Assembly election results are declared on May 2.

On Saturday, senior Congress leaders assembled the party’s candidates at a hotel on the outskirts of Guwahati for a closed-door meeting. The party said one must not read too much into the meeting where only “general discussions” related to the day of counting were held.

But there are speculations that the party plans to keep the candidates in some hotels in Guwahati, Kaziranga and Tezpur on April 22 and not let them be in touch with the world beyond.

But AICC general secretary and the party’s Assam in-charge Jitendra Singh trashed such theories as the “Mahajot (grand alliance) will get a big majority”.

Congress heads the 10-party Mahajot whose constituents include the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and Bodoland People’s Front.

“Our candidates are not going anywhere. We have just given certain directions to party candidates on the preparation for the counting day because of past experiences,” Mr. Singh told journalists ahead of the meeting.

He also made light of the sudden exit of all the AIUDF candidates from Assam soon after the third and final phase of polling was held on April 6. “They went to Rajasthan after a hectic election campaign and returned to Assam after offering prayers at the Ajmer Sharif,” he said.

The AIUDF leaders had, however, said they were wary of BJP indulging in horse-trading after the declaration of the election results. They cited the examples of Meghalaya, Manipur and Goa where Congress failed to form the government despite emerging as the single largest party.

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