Assam's AJP to field candidates in all Assembly seats

Assam polls: Former-AASU leader who led anti-CAA movement joins new party, plans to field candidates in 126 Assembly seats

The new party is aiming to dethrone what they call 'divisive' national parties such as Congress and BJP

Representative image. Credit: iStockPhoto

Former general secretary of the influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU), Lurinjyoti Gogoi, who led last year's anti-CAA agitation, joined Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), a newly floated regional party with a call to oust the "communal and divisive" national parties in the Assembly elections slated in April-May next year.

Gogoi was on Thursday named as president of the regional party, which was born out of the sentiments of indigenous people in Assam against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The Act faced wrath in most parts of Assam as indigenous people fear that it would reduce the indigenous people into minorities by giving citizenship to post-1971 non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.  

Jagadish Bhuyan, who quit BJP over CAA last year, was named general secretary of the party that seeks to field candidates in all 126 Assembly seats in next year's polls. Pabindra Deka, who also resigned as an MLA of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an ally of BJP in Assam recently, was named as working president of the new party.

"People of Assam are looking for an alternative political force as the national parties have crushed their hopes by creating a communal atmosphere for their political gains while neglecting their demand and wish for protection of ethnic identity, culture and language. The CAA was imposed on us despite strong protests against it. People have seen the mischief played by the national parties and they want a committed regional force, which will never compromise on the vital issues of identity. We are here to provide that alternative political platform. Assam needs a government of regional parties and so we will try to unite all committed regional forces and fight the elections together to oust the national parties," Gogoi said soon after taking charge as president of the party.

"People had trusted regional party like AGP and voted them to power but they cheated the people by joining hands with BJP in 2016," he said.

Gogoi said that the AJP plans to field candidates in all 126 seats in the Assembly elections.

The scrapping of CAA, a "foreigner free" NRC, identity issues faced by the state's ethnic communities after the passage of CAA, better education, practical steps for self-employment would be some of the major poll planks of the new party, he said.

Former AASU leaders joining politics is not new in Assam.  In 1985, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and several others formed Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), contested elections and formed government after leading the six-year-long Assam Agitation or "anti-foreigners" movement between 1979 and 1985. Solving the "foreigners infiltration" issue was their promise, but most of them still face the charge of failure to solve the issue in Assam. The present Chief Minister and BJP leader, Sarbananda Sonowal was also a president of AASU and joined AGP first and then jumped ship to BJP. Similarly, former AASU general secretary, Tapon Kumar Gogoi also joined BJP and is now a Lok Sabha member.

BJP's Mission 100 plus:

The development took place on a day BJP national vice-president, Baijayant Panda told reporters in Guwahati that BJP and its allies are confident of winning 100 plus seats, given their strong organisational position in the state. "The target is based on realistic assessment and ground situation," he said.