BJP-AGP alliance 2.0 welcomes criticism

Former chief minister of Assam Prafulla Kumar Mahanta in Guwahati on Thursday. Photo by Manash Das.

The BJP and the AGP restoring their alliance in Assam for the Lok Sabha elections has drawn flak from within the AGP and outside.

Aggrieved over the move, two-time chief minister and senior AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta on Thursday said that he will abstain from campaigning while calling the BJP “an anti-Assam and communal” party.

“The AGP was formed to solve the foreigner problem and so the Assam Accord was signed in 1985 with March 24, 1971 cut-off date to solve the problem. But the BJP decided to give citizenship to non-Muslim migrants till December 2014. This forced us (the AGP) to quit the alliance with the BJP as a protest but a few leaders have now undemocratically restored the alliance. This is against the AGP’s regional ideology and will hamper the party in the Lok Sabha elections. Party workers are unhappy and angry over the decision,” Mahanta told reporters here.

The AGP, which quit the alliance as a protest against NDA's Citizenship (Amendment) bill on January 7, decided to restore the alliance on Wednesday and three of its ministers took back their resignations.

“The decision was not taken in the party’s general body meeting. The general body’s approval is required for any such vital decision. I am against the alliance again when BJP president Amit Shah announced that they will again bring the citizenship bill after winning the elections. So I will not campaign for anyone in the Lok Sabha elections,” Mahanta said.

The former chief minister and Congress leader, Tarun Gogoi said that this alliance suggests that the BJP’s base has become weak in Assam following the agitation across the Northeast over the citizenship bill.

“In 2014, the BJP contested alone and won 7 seats. But this time they are sceptical about their prospect and so they restored the alliance with the AGP. This will help us (the Congress) in the elections because now the Congress remains the only anti-citizenship bill political force,” Gogoi said.

Sources said that the BJP has offered three of the 14 seats to AGP (Dhubri, Barpeta and Kaliabor), having large number of Muslim voters and where the BJP has never won.

While Dhubri and Barpeta are strongholds of Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF, Kaliabor is a Congress bastion, where former chief minister Tarun Gogoi's son Gaurav won in 2014.

Peasants’ leader Akhil Gogoi, who led over 70 organisations against the citizenship bill, termed the BJP-AGP tie-up an “unholy alliance” and said that the AGP betrayed the voters who have faith in regionalism

Elections to 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam would be conducted in three phases on April 11, 18 and 23.

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