AGP parleys on with BJP, Congress

Decide soon, exhorts Anjan; AGP workers at loose end


GUWAHATI, Feb 2: With the Asom Ga Parishad (AGP) leadership yet to take a fil call on pre-poll alliance, differences within the party over the issue are brewing rapidly. The regiol party has been in talks with both the BJP and the Congress over a possible alliance in the last few days.

Apparently, the talks are not proceeding smoothly with much confusion whether the AGP should have an alliance or understanding, and with whom. A section of AGP leaders are mooting an alliance with the BJP; pointing to the perceived anti-incumbency wave against the Congress government, they are arguing that people of the State want change now. However, another section of AGP leaders are favoring an understanding with the Congress.

Amidst this confusion, a group of AGP leaders comprising senior party leader Phanibhushan Choudhury, Pradip Hazarika and Durgadas Boro called on Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi at his residence in Koidhora on Monday night.

Interestingly, at the same time, another group led by AGP president Atul Bora and working president Keshab Mahanta had a closed door meeting with BJP’s chief ministerial candidate and State unit president Sarbanda Sonowal. It has been learnt that BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma too was present in the meeting.

Under the circumstances, AGP workers, are at a loss about the course their party will take, with the assembly elections already knocking at the door.

Asked by mediapersons on Tuesday about the meeting with Chief Minister Gogoi, Phanibhushan Choudhury remained non-committal and even denied that such a meeting took place. However, he categorically ruled out forming an alliance with the BJP for its disregard to the Assam Accord. “There is no question of forming an alliance with the BJP as it has violated the Assam Accord of 1985 over the citizenship row.”

Contrary to Choudhury’s claim, Chief Minister Gogoi admitted having a meeting with him and other AGP leaders on Monday night. However, he claimed that the meeting was about some government schemes, and no politics was discussed.

When asked about forming an alliance with any party, Gogoi said, “I am not desperate for an alliance. But if someone walks up to me, I’ll definitely talk to them.”

Meanwhile, talking to mediapersons, AGP MLA Keshab Mahanta said, “We are having talks, but nothing has been filized yet. Whatever decision we take, it will be taken after due consultation within the party. Alliance will be formed only with a party having ideological similarity.”

Former Chief Minister and AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta declined to make any comment on the alliance issue, saying, “I am not holding any leadership position in the party presently. I want the party to stand on its own. However, any decision on formation of alliance will be taken by the party’s steering committee.”

The most interesting comment, however, came from former AGP president Brindaban Goswami. Talking to the media, Goswami said, “I don’t know whether the party will form an alliance, and with whom. I am going to contest from Tezpur constituency as an AGP candidate. I have represented this constituency for four terms and this time the people want me back.”

Meanwhile, APCC president Anjan Dutta, seemingly in a hurry to settle the alliance issue, said: “The AGP should take a fil call soon. Postponing these things will not be gainful for anyone. They should decide within a day or two.”

It may be mentioned that with the assembly elections round the corner, both the BJP and the Congress are trying to rope in the AGP. By forming an alliance with the AGP, the BJP is aiming to unite the anti-Congress votes, whereas the Congress wants the AGP to contest alone if no understanding materializes, as that will split the anti-Congress votes.

The 2016 assembly election is being seen as highly crucial for the AGP’s survival. The party now has only 7 MLAs in the House after Padma Hazarika and ba Doley joined the BJP.

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Sentinel Assam