Guwahati, March 2: Reviving their old bonhomie, the BJP and the AGP today stitched an alliance for the upcoming assembly elections after a series of marathon talks, but both the parties remained mum on the seat sharing arrangement.
The development sparked outrage among grassroots workers of both parties in certain constituencies, with reports of party offices being vandalized and other stray incidents of violence coming in from places like Bongaigaon, Boko, Mahmora, Amguri, Sivasagar and Tezpur.
The entire top brass of the AGP, including president Atul Bora, former Chief Minister PK Mahanta, legislature party leader Phani Bhusan Choudhury, senior leaders Keshav Mahanta, Birendra Prasad Baishya, Kamala Kalita, Ramendra rayan Kalita, Pradeep Hazarika, Kumar Deepak Das and Asom Yuva Parishad general secretary Tapan Das met BJP president Amit Shah at his 11 Akbar Road residence in New Delhi this evening.
The meeting, which was also attended by State BJP president Sarbanda Sonowal, Himanta Biswa Sarma and senior party leader Ram Lal lasted for over an hour.
Following the meeting, both the parties announced that they have reached an understanding to fight the assembly elections jointly.
"There had been several rounds of unofficial talks. But today, the understanding has been filized officially. We discussed in detail all issues and resolved to fight the elections together," AGP president Atul Bora told jourlists after the meeting.
"We decided to go for alliance in the interest of implementing the Assam Accord and addressing critical problems the people of Assam have been facing. The Tarun Gogoi government has been indulging in corruption and misrule ever since it came to power in 2001 and has been a failure on all fronts. The people now want a change. We realized that we cannot do this alone, so we joined hands with the BJP," Bora said, adding that the tie-up will ensure that non-Congress votes do not split.
Bora also appealed to agitating grassroots workers who are opposed to the alliance to fall in line for the "greater interest of the State."
He said further discussions will be held to filize the seat-sharing arrangement.
While the AGP has been playing hardball over the number of seats it wants, sources claimed that the BJP has climbed down from its earlier tough stand and is likely to set aside over 30 seats for the regiol party. These seats include Barhampur, Bongaigaon, Koliabor, Lakhimpur, Tezpur, Abhyapuri North, Abhyapuri South, Biswath Chariali, Barpeta, harkotiya, Amguri, Teok, Dergaon, Bokakhat, Sarupathar, Guwahati West, Chayygaon, Boko, Jamumukh, Patacharkuchi, Sarukhetri, Kamalpur, Bilasipara West, Dalgaon, Kalaigaon, Barama and Lahorighat. In some seats, the two parties are likely to go for "friendly contest".
State BJP president Sarbanda Sonowal said the Congress and the AIUDF have posed a threat to the greater Assam society.
"To salvage the State and address perennial problems like unemployment, flood and erosion, we (BJP and AGP) have decided to work jointly," Sonowal said.
The State BJP president said his party has already clinched support from the BPF, Rabhas and Tiwas. "Talks are on with other communities and tribal groups. We hope to build up a regiol front with the support of which the BJP will form the next government in the State," he added.
The AGP leaders are likely to meet Prime Minister rendra Modi tomorrow.
Minutes after the announcement in Delhi, BJP supporters in Assam took to the streets in different areas of the State, opposing the alliance.
BJP supporters in Sivasagar vandalised the party office in the district, opposing alliance with the AGP. Similar protests by AGP supporters are also anticipated in the days to come.
Thousands of AGP members, mostly grassroot party workers, had taken to streets in different parts of the State a few days back, opposing any alliance with the BJP.
The BJP and the AGP had an alliance in the 2001 assembly elections, but it was not successful in preventing the Congress from coming to power. They tied up again in 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the alliance could make some dents in Congress citadels. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Sarbanda Sonowal as State BJP president decided his party would go alone. The BJP secured its highest ever tally of seven Lok Sabha seats from Assam, while the AGP drew a blank.