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Mahanta resigns as AGP president

Guwahati, July 14: AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today resigned from his post, owning moral responsibility for the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha polls.

The AGP, which was in power for two terms in Assam, failed to win a single seat in the last Lok Sabha elections, prompting its leaders to demand a complete overhaul of the party by inducting new faces.

Mahanta tendered his resignation in an executive meeting of the party at its head-office at Ambari here.

After tendering his resignation, he left the meeting around 1.15pm, with the party’s working president, Atul Bora, taking his place.

However, the final call on his resignation will be taken by the party’s highest decision-making body — the general house — tomorrow.

Bora presided over the meeting where the party’s executive members openly talked about the causes of the party’s failure in the elections.

“I have tendered my resignation, taking moral responsibility for the party’s failure in the last Lok Sabha election,” Mahanta told reporters while leaving.

Mahanta, however, did not submit any letter to resign from his post.

He simply made the announcement to the gathering.

Efforts are on by a section of the members of the party’s executive body, who consider Mahanta’s decision a “temporary relief”, to persuade him to withdraw his decision.

After the meeting, party insiders said that there is a strong possibility of Mahanta’s attending tomorrow's meeting.

Mahanta had told the meeting that he was resigning hoping that without him the party might be able to regain the support of the masses.

“He was concerned about the future of the party. That is why he took responsibility for the party’s failure in the last Lok Sabha election. He thought that without him, the party would be able to regain the people’s support. He admitted that the party had failed to earn the people’s goodwill,” said a source.

There has been resentment among a section of party members against Mahanta, which grew after the last Lok Sabha elections.

However, another section believes that without Mahanta, the AGP will be nowhere.

The supporters of Mahanta were apparently unhappy with his decision and tried to dissuade him.

They took him back to his chair as soon as he prepared to leave the meeting after tendering his resignation. But Mahanta stuck to his stand.

“A few members said in the meeting that only Mahanta’s resignation would not help the party. They said if resignation was an answer to the party’s failure in the election, then everybody should resign, not just Mahanta,” said a party insider.

After declaration of the Lok Sabha election results, Mahanta had openly blamed some party members for helping other political parties.

“Suspicion brewed among party members once senior leaders Chandra Mohan Patowary and Hitendra Nath Goswami joined the BJP just before the polls,” the party insider said.

The executive meeting also stressed restructuring the party.

It proposed to hold a political convention within three months to seek suggestions from people having faith on regionalism and other organisations to take the party to the people.

There was another proposal to restructure of the party.

Mahanta did not have a smooth start after he was elected president for a three-year term in 2012, defeating Padma Hazarika.

His strained ties with the Hazarika group, the neutrality of former president Brindaban Goswami and the exodus of senior leaders such as Patowary and Goswami to the BJP in March overshadowed whatever little Mahanta and company tried to do to improve the party’s lot.

On March 30, AGP workers from Sootea, Hazarika’s constituency, resigned en masse from the party, leaving the north bank without any party leader of clout.

The concern within the party rank and file over the party’s steadily declining electoral fortunes is not without reason.

Not only did the party representation in the Assembly fall from 24 in 2006 to 10 in 2011, it drew a blank in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, from one in 2009.

The party’s immediate concern is the growth of the BJP at its expense.

“The BJP won seven seats, three more than in 2009. But the worrying part was that it ate into our votebank. If we cannot put our house in order, we don’t stand a chance in the 2016 Assembly polls,” a party leader said.