Assam Assembly Election 2021: Perfume baron-turned-politician Badruddin Ajmal may play kingmaker
Ajmal has a Fazil-e Deoband (equivalent to a Master's Degree in Islamic Theology and Arabic), is the founding president of the NGO Markazul Ma'arif, and the managing trustee of HAMM Public Trust, Hojai
"Who is Badruddin Ajmal?"
That was the former question late chief minister Tarun Gogoi dismissively posed prior to the 2006 Assembly elections.
At that point, Ajmal, a prominent businessman who had amassed a fortune in the agar oil and perfume business, was just about to wade into the shark-infested waters of politics with his AIUDF (then known as Assam UDF).
Though Ajmal's decision to form the Assam UDF was triggered by the Supreme Court scrapping the Illegal Migrants (Determination By Tribunal) Act in 2005 after a petition from BJP's Sarbananda Sonowal. The perfume baron, however, was seemingly more miffed with the Congress and Tarun Gogoi, which he harnessed into a remarkable political debut of 10 Assembly seats for his party in 2006.
Ajmal himself was elected from two constituencies: Salmara south and Jamunamukh.
The 2009 election saw Ajmal defeat the Congress' Anowar Hussain to win the Dhubri Lok Sabha seat.
In the 2011 Assembly election, the AIUDF did even better, winning 18 seats and becoming the largest Opposition party. The BJP, at the time, had a mere five seats.
In the 2014 general election to the Lok Sabha, Ajmal was re-elected from Dhubri and his brother Sirajuddin won in Barpeta. The AIUDF had won three seats in the Lok Sabha.
Then came the saffron surge in 2016.
And with it, the AIUDF was reduced to 13 seats and a 13 percent vote share. Party chief Badruddin Ajmal lost the election in the Salmara south constituency against Congress' Wazed Ali Choudhury.
The AIUDF made the decision to contest just three seats in the 2019 election (it had initially declared that it would contest eight seats).
The AIUDF is considered to have a large base among Assam's around 35 percent Muslim population.
A fact that surely hasn't escaped the Congress, which has joined hands with it and four other parties ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls "for the greater interest of the people" and to "save Assam".
The perfume baron-turned-politician may yet have a chance to play as kingmaker.
Ajmal was born on 12 February, 1950, to businessmen Haji Ajmal Ali and Mariamunnesa Ajmal in Hojai.
In 2015, he was listed among the 22 Indians who figured in the list of the World's 500 Most Influential Muslims.
He has a Fazil-e Deoband (equivalent to Master's Degree in Islamic Theology and Arabic), is the founding president of the NGO Markazul Ma'arif, and the managing trustee of HAMM Public Trust, Hojai.
He is married to Rezwana Ajmal and has seven children (the most of any Member of Parliament).
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