NEW DELHI: Dr CP Joshi, General Secretary of Congress Party and In-Charge of Assam and West Bengal elections in conversation with The Citizen:

Q: Both Congress and BJP have seen a huge turnout of people in the rallies in Assam. Do you think that the battle is tough?

A: Assembly elections are reflections of Parliamentary elections. We have to look at the past four years to compare the best of the BJP performance in Assam. Things could fall in perspective if we look at the statistics from 2011 onwards . If we compare the vote share it will be clear how tough is the battle.

Q: What has been the Congress focus during the campaign?

A: Let’s talk about the past 15 years. The state was volatile. This is a party that has gave peace to the state. In the past 15 years development that has been given. I do not disagree that there is huge scope of development even now. Congress wants the aspirations of the youth to be met. This is our top priority. The mindset is changing and we will try to keep up with the pace. This is our focus.

Q: Do you think Bihar formula of uniting with anti BJP parties would have worked for you in Assam?

A: No Bihar formula is needed here. The formula that is already in place is working and it is fine so far.

Q: How far has Himmanta Biswa Sarma's exit impacted on the Congress?

A: He has not left now. He has left months ago much before the assembly elections. I agree that about ten MLAs have left with him. However that is all okay. Things have worked in our favour. The grass-root level is intact. The grass root work force has helped and that will be seen in the results.

Q: What would be the top five things that Congress would take up if you win?

A: Aspirations of young people is a priority. The party wants the youth to integrate and come forward and involve themselves to contribute towards the growth of the state. We want peace in the state to be retained against all odds. Best of education should reach everyone, as should development and sustained growth.

Q: Do you have an understanding with the All India United Democratic Front (AIDUF) for a post poll alliance?

A: We are going to get an absolute majority so there is no question of an understanding. As for anti incumbency, we have dealt with that already, before the elections. There were a total of 78 MLAs. And 10 MLAs have left with Himmanta. We replaced about 25 candidates overall. After the changes where is the question of anti incumbency? I think we have taken care of this issue.

Q: Why did the Congress fail to reach an understanding with AASU and BDF or did you not try at all, why?

A: Why should we try? I am confident that we will get maximum numbers in the Assembly so there is no question of all this.

Q: Isn’t Tarun Gogoi too old now to deliver?

A: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Assam Pradesh Congress Committee(APCC) Anjan Dutta have been working and managing the state and the party for the past 15 years. There is no reason to doubt anything. Once the elections have been done these issues will surface. I think post elections would be the right time to talk about all these issues.