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Patowary quits AGP, Cong lists candidates

Guwahati, March 8: The AGP today received another setback as its former president Chandra Mohan Patowary resigned from the party, expressing his frustration at the failure of the party leadership to strengthen the regional force.

Patowary, who was a minister in the erstwhile AGP government, announced that he would formally join the BJP in New Delhi on Monday.

The development came on a day when the BJP announced its first list of five candidates to contest the Lok Sabha polls in Assam.

Patowary, however, made it clear that he has nothing against the aims and objectives of the AGP and he would always continue his anti-Congress stand.

“I had tried my best to strengthen the AGP from its birth. I had sacrificed my personal ambition on several occasions in the greater interest of the party. But my efforts and sincerity did not bear fruit and the current party leadership continued to ignore my contributions for reasons best known to them. Under such circumstances I felt frustrated and decided to quit the AGP,” Patowary told the reporters this evening at his hilltop residence at Kharguli here.

Patowary’s resignation comes less than a month since another senior party leader and former minister, Hiten Goswami from Jorhat, quit the AGP on February 16.

“It had disturbed me that the party leadership failed to keep the party united and fight against a force like the Congress. The AGP leadership has completely failed to keep the anti-Congress votes united,” Patowary, who was in the forefront for an AGP-BJP alliance for the polls in April, said.

Though the BJP leadership had shown a keen interest in an alliance, the same seemed to be missing at the AGP’s end, Patowary said. If the alliance could have worked out, it would have marred the Congress’s winning prospects in many constituencies, he added.

Assam BJP president Sarbananda Sonowal told The Telegraph over phone from New Delhi that Patowary was most welcome to his party and it would be big boost for the BJP in the state.

Sonowal had quit the AGP two years ago.

According to Sonowal, among the candidates announced today, three were sitting MPs — Bijoya Chakraborty from Guwahati, Rajen Gohain from Nagaon and Ramen Deka from Mangaldoi. While Sonowal will be the BJP’s candidate in Lakhimpur, Kamakhya Prasad Tasa will contest the poll from Jorhat.

While the AGP is expected to announce its final list of candidates for the elections by March 12, sources said the Congress has finalised the list of candidates for 10 constituencies.

According to the list approved by the central election committee, six sitting MPs — Lalit Mohan Suklabaidya from Karimganj, Biren Singh Engti from Diphu, Ismail Hussain from Barpeta, Paban Singh Ghatowar from Dibrugarh, Bijoy Krishna Handique from Jorhat and Ranee Narah — have been selected to contest the election.

The AICC has selected Gaurav Gogoi, son of chief minister Tarun Gogoi, to contest from Kaliabor constituency.

Sitting MLAs Bhupen Kumar Bora and Sushmita Deb have been selected to fight from Tezpur and Silchar constituencies respectively.

Manas Bora will fight the election from Guwahati on a Congress ticket.

Manas, son of Assam’s social welfare minister Akon Bora, had won the internal election of the Congress designed as “primaries” held to select the candidate for the Guwahati Lok Sabha.

The AICC has not taken a final decision on candidates for Dhubri, Nagaon and Mangaldoi constituencies.

Assam PCC insiders attributed the delay in announcing the candidates for the three seats to a lack of consensus on those recommended for the seats. Barring a couple, they are not “strong” enough to inspire confidence among the leadership in these high-stake polls.

The Lok Sabha polls in Assam have been scheduled for April 7, 12 and 24.

The Congress leadership might adopt a wait-and-watch policy to see which candidates the AIUDF will field.

In Tripura, the Congress has selected Prof. Arunodoy Saha, a former vice-chancellor of Tripura Central University, for Tripura (West) seat and Sachitra Debbarma for Tripura (East), which is reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates.