Interview/ Tarun Gogoi, chief minister
This election has been a close contest. What is your assessment?
I am 100 per cent confident that the result will be in our favour. People of Assam have seen all the changes that my government has ushered in—be it in law and order, insurgency, finances or infrastructure. Now, any visitor coming to Assam exclaims how peaceful the state is. This wasn’t the case earlier.
In case the numbers fall below expectations, would you tie up with the AIUDF?
The AIUDF had given us a proposal of a pre-poll alliance. But it said that the Congress has to field weak candidates in certain constituencies where their chances were good. I refused. I am a straightforward politician.
But AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal said if the BJP comes to power, the Congress would be responsible for it to some extent.
Maulana Ajmal is playing a double game. They have an understanding with the BJP also. Or else, why would they put up candidates in places where they have no presence? The AIUDF did so simply to help the BJP by dividing the Muslim votes in those areas that traditionally go to the Congress. The voters have understood him well and will write him off.
Narendra Modi has ridiculed your surname. What do you have to say?
This is not the culture of the Assamese people; this is the RSS culture. We cannot allow our age-old tradition of peace and amity, handed down to us by two great persons of Assam—Srimanta Sankardev and Azan Fakir—to be polluted by these people. We do not want the communal harmony in Assam to be disturbed by the BJP, who take their orders from Nagpur.
Has the issue of protecting Bangladeshi migrants made this election tougher for you?
I don’t think so. I don’t need any Bangladeshi vote to win elections. But at the same time, all Bengali-speaking Muslims are not foreigners. I shall not allow any Indian citizen to be harassed in the name of religion.
During your campaigns in the Bengali-dominated riverine areas, you said only the Congress can protect Muslims. Was it a tactic to woo Muslims?
Muslims have understood who their friends and foes are. I will only say that the Congress plays inclusive politics, and the BJP divisive.
Opinion polls predict it would be difficult for the Congress to form the next government.
In 2011, too, the opinion polls predicted on the same lines, but they all went wrong. I am confident that we will have the last laugh.