Guwahati, March 14: Rumblings of discontent have surfaced in the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) within hours of the party’s decision to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the BJP, with former chief minister Prafulla Mahanta questioning his party’s alacrity in returning to the NDA fold despite no assurance from the Centre on the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Mahanta said, “I have been opposing the BJP and pledging my support for implementation of Assam Accord and protesting against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.”
If the Citizenship Bill is passed, Assam will be full of Bangladeshis, he said. “At a public rally, BJP president Amit Shah had announced his party’s commitment to give shelter to non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in India. After that, there’s no question of alliance or reconciliation with the BJP,” the two-time CM of the state added.
The AGP and BJP parted ways after the Centre went ahead and introduced the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha. However, after a wave of massive protests disrupted the social fabric of the North East, the Narendra Modi-led government decided against tabling the Bill in Rajya Sabha. The AGP is currently bargaining for two Lok Sabha tickets, one Rajya Sabha seat and one Governor’s position.
Mahanta further rubbished the claims by some within the party that he is driven by his personal ambitions to object to the alliance. “It is a baseless allegation. To say that I am against the AGP-BJP alliance because I couldn’t be the Governor is a lie, as is the claim that I ever showed any interest in contesting from Nagaon,” he added.
He blamed the party for not making him privy to all major decision-making processes that involve the BJP and said he was kept in the dark over the possibility of an alliance. “Even in 2016, the senior party colleagues had not shared with me the decision of forging an alliance with BJP or discussed the matter of seat sharing. They never thought I am important enough to know this,” he said.
Mahanta has called upon regional organisations such as the All Assam Students Union, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad and others, asking them to support and strengthen the base of the regional party. He also appealed to all the senior leaders of the AGP to not be “opportunistic” and work in tandem with these organisations “for the interest of Assam”.
While Mahanta has received support from some of the disgruntled members of the party, the other wing of AGP led by president Atul Bora is convinced that the future of the party lies in aligning with BJP for the Lok Sabha elections.
Assam has 14 Lok Sabha seats, seven of which were won by the BJP in 2014, three each by Congress and AIUDF, while one seat was bagged by an independent candidate. (Agencies)