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Mahanta hedges on joining third front

Guwahati, Feb. 26: In a jolt to the third front floated yesterday as a rival to the Congress and the BJP at the national level, the AGP today said it was yet to make up its mind to join the group.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat had announced the formation of the front yesterday in New Delhi with 11 Left and other secular parties, including the AGP, to fight the Lok Sabha polls together.

Apart from the AGP, the front includes four Left parties, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United), Janata Dal (Secular), AIADMK, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and the Biju Janata Dal from Odisha.

Nobody from the AGP was present in the meeting but Karat had claimed the party had expressed its support to the front. Party president Prafulla Mahanta, however, said here this afternoon that they had not yet decided to join the front.

“We have not yet decided (about joining the third front). If something happens, we will let you know,” he said, while talking to mediapersons at the party’s head office here, fuelling apprehensions about the party’s belief in the success of the front against the Congress or the BJP. The other party, which did not join the meeting, was the BJD.

Mahanta’s statement, sources said, only added to the belief that the front would remain a non-starter. Such a front was stitched in the nineties and it had led two governments at the Centre. This is Karat’s second attempt at reviving the front after a failed attempt in 2009.

While Karat categorically mentioned about the AGP being part of the front, Mahanta seemed to play safe. “It is their expectation,” Mahanta said about the inclusion of his party’s name. Karat had said yesterday that Mahanta could not attend the meeting because his mother was critically ill.

While asked about Karat’s comment about his mother’s health, Mahanta said his mother “has been ill for the past six months” but did not describe her condition as critical.

Mahanta also denied any move to tie-up with the BJP. “There is no talk of any alliance with the BJP.”

The AGP, however, is part of the Northeast Regional Political Front, a group of 10 regional parties, formed in October last year.

AGP and BJP insiders said without an alliance, both parties would suffer but the AGP leadership feels they stand to gain in the long run if they do not tie up with the BJP.

The possibility of an AGP-BJP alliance gained ground after both supported the same Independent candidate Haidar Hussain in the recent Rajya Sabha elections. Both the parties had an alliance in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

The AGP and the BJP have four and one seats respectively in the Lok Sabha from Assam.


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