Assam polls: Congress chief expresses discontent over candidate selection

Ripun Bora Assam Mioram border

Assam Congress president Ripun Bora on Wednesday said he had stopped giving any input on the selection of candidates for the state assembly polls after some of his supporters did not get tickets, hinting at dissatisfaction over the ticket distribution process.

The candidates, who finally got tickets in those 6-7 seats, lost the election, the state Congress chief said at a press conference here.

“When I could not give tickets to 6-7 of my supporters, I did not recommend any more candidates. I did not interfere in the candidate selection process at all,” Bora said.

The Congress had fielded 95 candidates and won 29 of the 126 assembly seats in Assam.

Asked if his withdrawal from the selection process affected the quality of overall selections, Bora said, “These are confidential matters and I am a loyal Congress worker. It will not be proper for me to comment on these issues publicly.

“I am also not saying that my supporters would have won those seats. But the fact is that we have lost those seats.”

After the poll debacle, many Congress leaders and workers have started speaking on the leadership issue and alleged transaction of money in the candidate selection process.

Speaking on the matter, Bora said, “We have formed a three-member committee headed by MLA Sushanta Borgohain to inquire about all poll-related issues such as indiscipline, ticket distribution, and money transaction.”

The committee was to submit its report within one month, but it will be slightly delayed due to the COVID-19 situation and movement restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, he added.

The Congress has not been able to conduct a detailed block-wise and district-wise review of the election results due to the COVID-19 situation, but online feedback has been taken from both winning and losing candidates, Bora said.

An All India Congress Committee headed by former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan has also prepared a report on the performance of the Congress in the 2021 assembly elections in five states.

“The NDA won 75 and Congress-led Grand Alliance bagged 50 seats, but the difference of vote share between the two was just 0.8 per cent. It was a neck-and-neck fight and we lost many seats by very thin margins,” Bora said.

The state Congress chief said the party performed on expected lines in lower Assam and Barak Valley, but “totally failed” in the constituencies of upper Assam.

“In upper Assam, we lost 12 seats directly due to division of anti-BJP votes between the Grand Alliance and the regional alliance of Raijor Dal-Assam Jatiya Parishad. If we could have stopped that division, we would have won 12 more seats,” he added.

Bora also refuted the allegation that allying with the AIUDF had impacted the result of the grand old party.

“If there was any polarisation of Hindu votes in favour of the BJP due to our alliance with AIUDF, then the margin would have been huge. The agenda of the BJP is to show Congress as a pro-Muslim party and they did the same during 2016 assembly polls, ” he added.

Bora further said, as announced earlier, the Congress will form a “high-powered” committee with all constituents of the Grand Alliance to analyse the defeat of the opposition grouping.

The Congress, which was in power for 15 years in Assam since 2001, had formed a ”Grand Alliance” with the AIUDF, BPF, CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM), RJD, Adivasi National Party (ANP) and the Jimochayan (Deori) Peoples Party (JPP) to fight the Assembly election against the BJP-led NDA.