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AGP’s lone Lok Sabha MP resigns, joins BJP

Tezpur, March 13: The AGP received yet another jolt when its lone member in the Lok Sabha, Joseph Toppo, resigned from the party today.

Altogether 150 AGP leaders and workers had joined the BJP yesterday, including its former president Chandra Mohan Patowary, former ministers Hitendra Nath Goswami and Atul Bora.

Toppo told The Telegraph over phone that his decision was prompted by his dissatisfaction over the party’s inactivity. “The elections are knocking at the door but the party is yet to announce the name of its candidate for the prestigious Tezpur Lok Sabha seat, which has disappointed me and other party workers.”

Asked whether he would follow some other AGP leaders in joining the BJP, Toppo said he was yet to take a decision.

Toppo, who is an important leader from the state’s tea tribe community, had served as the minister of state for labour and employment in the last Prafulla Kumar Mahanta-led AGP government. He had won the Dhekiajuli Assembly seat (in Sonitpur district) twice in 1996 and 2001 on an AGP ticket.

However, former AGP president Brindaban Goswami termed Toppo’s resignation “irresponsible”. “He was holding important and responsible posts in the party, such as general secretary and president of the parliamentary committee. He shouldn’t have fled the battlefield like this. He will have to reply to the people of Tezpur Lok Sabha segment for his action,” he said.

Goswami said reports about him seeking a ticket for the Tezpur Lok Sabha seat were “rumours” and added that he still believed that regionalism was the best way to uphold the state’s interests.

The AGP today claimed that a section of its leaders and workers had quit the party to join the BJP only to protect their own interests.

In a resolution adopted in its central executive meeting at its head office in Ambari here today, the AGP said national parties like the Congress and the BJP have been conspiring for long to weaken regionalism but this would not affect the AGP.

The meeting described the trend of some AGP leaders and workers giving up regionalism as “unfortunate”.

In a reverse move, the treasurer of the BJP’s Assam youth wing, Luit Kumar Barman, joined the AGP today. He was among the more than 100 youths who joined the regional party today.