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Backers sing new-party tune
- Reluctant Mahanta claims he is unsure

Guwahati/Dibrugarh, Sept. 13: The dissension-wracked AGP inched closer to a split with the man in the muddle, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, admitting to being pressured by his supporters and advised by several senior colleagues to form a new party.

A day after the AGP executive committee endorsed the steering committee's disciplinary action against him, the founder president of the party told The Telegraph that though he has not taken any decision on floating a new party, he was 'advised' by many, including senior party leaders, to do so.

'My supporters and some senior leaders of the party are quite unanimous that we should go for a new party to carry on the torch of regionalism,' Mahanta said. However, he was in two minds on whether to 'quit' the very party he has helped found.

Mahanta once again appealed to the party to rethink its 'unconstitutional decision', adding that he was being subjected to 'great injustice. The decision is an injustice to me and they (the party's leadership) should have a rethink.'

Sources close to Mahanta said the former chief minister was engaged in hectic parleys with many senior disgruntled leaders of the party who were not happy with AGP president Brindaban Goswami's style of functioning.

'Senior leaders such as Mahanta and Bhrigu Kumar Phukan have been sidelined in the party. Though Goswami talks about party unity, he is running the party with his own coterie,' alleged a Mahanta loyalist and a former party state executive member.

Peeved by the state executive for ignoring its plea to review the disciplinary action against barring him from assuming any responsibility in the party, Mahanta's supporters have also decided to step up their anti-Goswami agitation. Mahanta, however, recently appealed to them to desist from any agitation.

A party general secretary said the result of the October 13 Moran Assembly byelection could be crucial for the party. 'It can break or build the party,' he said, adding that the two-day executive in Dibrugarh, which concluded today, decided to go for a 'massive campaign' to retain the seat.

'All these protests about the ban on Mahanta and noises against Goswami's leadership will fall silent once we retain the seat. Those who are now advising Mahanta to form a new party will also desert him then. Winnability is last thing in politics,' the general secretary said.

Corruption charges against the Tarun Gogoi government would be the main election plank of the AGP for the byelection to be held on October 13, the executive today decided.

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