Mission 84? BJP bubble set to burst

Insiders admit party not looking at more than 55 seats

BY Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, Feb 15: BJP’s ‘Mission 84’ slogan seems to have petered out even before the election dates are announced and the campaigning peaks.

Consider this: The BJP will have to give 15 seats to the BPF following an alliance with the party. In the event of a tie-up with the AGP, it will likely have to set aside another 30 seats. Tribal organizations are demanding five seats and in at least 20 others, mostly minority domited, the BJP has little presence. This leave the saffron outfit with just around 55-56 seats where it can field candidates and go all out.

An assessment by some insiders in the BJP also reached that conclusion.

The much-touted ‘Mission 84’ was announced before rebel Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma and his ten loyalist MLAs joined the party. After his crossover, Sarma had claimed that the party would “now get even more seats.” The hype had led to over 3,000 aspiring candidates filing application for party tickets.

From those applications, the party had shortlisted five candidates in each constituency. However, the exercise was scrapped half way after internecine rivalry erupted over the issue of candidates for the seats in Guwahati. The party then decided to have a fresh look into the compiled list of shortlisted candidates.

When the discrepancy was pointed out, party spokesman Rupam Goswami tried to avoid a direct reply,saying, “We have set aside 15 seats for the BPF. Alliance with the AGP has not been filized yet.”

Without elaborating, Goswami, however, insisted that the party will get the numbers required to form the government.“People want change,” he added.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has been asking the BJP as to why it is scurrying for alliance with parties ‘if confident of winning’. On the other hand, State president Sarbanda Sonowal has said that the party is in talks with all parties and tribal organizations, excluding the AIUDF and Congress.

“Our alliance will be with the people. Even if Rahul Gandhi comes to the State a thousand times, he won’t be able to influence the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BJP continued to battle protests within the party over the issue of candidature. Members from harkatiya and gaon staged demonstrations at the party offices at Hengerabari and Ulubari.

On the other hand, the AGP today began a series of three-day deliberations over the alliance issue. Today’s meeting of the steering committee of the party was inconclusive. The party’s central executive will meet tomorrow and the general house a day later. Sources said that party was still divided over an alliance with the BJP.

Senior leaders like Phani Bhusan Choudhury, Durga Das Boro, Thaneswar Boro and Satyabrata Kalita were opposed to an alliance, contending that the regiol party would not be benefitted. They felt the AGP would lose its grassroots hold in the seats which it will have to set aside for the BJP.

“In the past when we had alliance, it was observed that that the AGP votes went to the BJP, but the BJP votes did not come to the AGP,” said a party leader.

Some AGP leaders were also uneasy over the fact that people who were “honoured by the party in the past” had left the party and are now running the show in BJP.

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Sentinel Assam