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Bhupen to face AGP music
- Heat turned on BJP star campaigner

Guwahati, March 1: The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is tuning up to a musical campaign for countering Bhupen Hazarika, the BJP’s star campaigner for the Lok Sabha polls in Assam.

“Yes, we are planning an effective campaign to counter Bhupen Hazarika, musically that is. He is a political opponent now and he will have to face the music,” AGP spokesperson Jagadish Bhuyan today said.

However, he refused to give the details. “People will know when the time comes.”

A source in the Congress said there was no need for anything special because Hazarika’s entry into the BJP would not dent the fortunes of the ruling party.

A senior AGP leader said, “Bhupenda is a performer and it is certain that he will be used by the BJP to woo voters with stage shows or even impromptu singing sessions. Our aim will be not to give any room to the opponent to hold centrestage.”

The 78-year-old cultural icon might be named the BJP candidate from Tezpur, his hometown, though there were talks of nominating him for the high-profile Guwahati seat.

The AGP was in no mood to take any chances because Tezpur also happens to be the hometown of AGP president Brindaban Goswami.

However, the Tezpur Lok Sabha seat has been the stronghold of Congress leader Mani Kumar Subba.

The party has convened a meeting tomorrow to discuss its poll strategy, including fine-tuning the plan to counter Hazarika.

Hazarika joined the BJP on Thursday, a move that left the state stunned and his fans disappointed. The All-Assam Students Union (AASU) said Hazarika had put the state to shame by joining the BJP.

For the AGP, the development was shocking as it had made a lot of noise about nominating Hazarika to Parliament after the Dadasaheb Phalke award winner was snubbed by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance last year, dropping his name from the final list of presidential nominees to the Rajya Sabha.

The AGP — after the initial shock — believe that Hazarika has lost a lot of goodwill in the state by joining the BJP. A source in the party said, “Our task has been made easier by the bad press Hazarika has attracted on his joining the BJP. He was supposed to be carrying the torch of regionalism, which is what the people wanted.”

AGP president Brindaban Goswami said it is the ideology of the party that matters in an election, not an individual. “Unless the BJP learns to respect the aspirations of the Assamese people, the voters will not accept either the party or him (Hazarika),” he added.

“None of the sides, neither we nor the BJP, are talking of any kind of partnership at this moment,” a senior AGP leader said.

Asked what their stand on Hazarika will be if there is an alliance between the AGP and the BJP, the leader said, “We shall cross the bridge when we come to it.”

As the state goes to the polls on April 20 and 26, the AGP is preparing to announce its first list of candidates this week, sources said. However, the party was not very happy with the dates because the first day of polling would fall amid Rongali Bihu celebrations.

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