LS polls: BJP planning to leave 4 seats for Assam allies

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Guwahati, July 2: In a bid to appease its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), BJP is considering parting with 4 seats for the upcoming Lok Sabha election next year. Of the 14 seats in Assam, BJP is likely to leave 4 for its allies.
“BJP is going to contest the Lok Sabha election in partnership with AGP and BPF. Leaving some seats for our allies is an imperative. We may leave up to 4 seats for our allies – maybe 3 for AGP and 1 for BPF,” a senior BJP leader in the state said. In the last parliamentary election, AGP had contested 11 seats while BPF had contested 2. Both could not win any seat. BJP, on the other hand, contested 13 seats and won 7, making its first foray into the Northeast. Now, BJP heads a coalition Government in the state with AGP and BPF, formed after the saffron party became the single largest party for the first time in the state’s political history in 2016.
While BJP said it is only keeping its “coalition dharma” intact, the move comes as BJP’s relations with its allies have been strained since it introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which proposes to make illegal migrants belonging to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan eligible for citizenship.
AGP had threatened to walk out of the coalition if the BJP-led Government as the Centre went ahead with the bill, saying that it goes against the principles of the Assam Accord. AGP was formed after the signing of the Accord – that has laid down March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and deportation of foreigners – which came as the culmination of a 6-year-long anti-foreigner movement of the 1980s. AGP’s contention is that Assam will be swamped by non-Muslim migrants particularly from Bangladesh.
State BJP general secretary Dilip Saikia said the party’s central committee would take the ultimate decisions on seat sharing with allies. “Whatever decisions the central committee takes, the state BJP will abide by it,” Saikia added.
BJP national president Amit Shah has emphasized on contesting the Lok Sabha polls by taking along the saffron party’s allies under the banner of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) in 8 states of the Northeast. Shah had set the target of winning 21 out of total 25 parliamentary seats in the region by the BJP and constituents of BJP-led NEDA. During his visit to the state in March, he exhorted BJP leaders to maintain the coalition in the 2019 Lok Sabha election as well.
At BJP’s office bearers’ meeting here on Sunday, the saffron party reiterated that it would contest the panchayat election this year and the Lok Sabha election next year in coalition with its partners. BJP state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said, “The party has called a series of meetings with office bearers of BJP morchas and 61 legislators to prepare for the panchayat and Lok Sabha polls from July 2. As far as BJP is concerned, we have started our preparations for the elections. All sections of our party are involved in preparing the grounds for the upcoming polls.” (TNN)