Prafulla Kumar Mahanta at the AGP headquarters in Guwahati on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, July 15: The AGP general house meeting this evening rejected Prafulla Kumar Mahanta’s resignation from the party president’s post.
The party, however, decided that working president Atul Bora (junior) will continue to remain the in-charge president till the next general house meeting in six months.
It will then take a call on a new president if Mahanta continues to stick to his stand.
Mahanta had yesterday resigned from the president’s post, taking moral responsibility for the party’s debacle in the last Lok Sabha elections where it failed to win even a single of the 14 seats in the state. “We have rejected his resignation but we also want to give everyone a chance to introspect and take a call, which will help the party in the long run. Our members and supporters will also see how the party functions in the next six months,” a party leader told The Telegraph.
The AGP will also hold a political convention on October 14, barring last-minute changes, to take suggestions from a wide section of supporters and other regional-minded organisations on how to make the party stronger.
Sustained requests from senior leaders through the evening and night saw Mahanta attend the general house meeting today. Mahanta is a general house member as well as an MLA.
“He had resigned from the president’s post, not from the party. He continues to be a member of the general house. Therefore, there is nothing to be surprised about his presence today,” a senior member of the party told The Telegraph.
Sources said though Mahanta relented to the requests, he refused to take back his resignation as an influential section within the party painted him as the only problem for the party.
“They feel if Mahanta goes, the problem of the party also goes with him. Mahanta, therefore, decided to quit and not be seen as someone clinging on to the president’s post,” the source said.
They also said Mahanta resigned in a bid to pre-empt six of the nine sitting AGP MLAs from quitting the party, as they were uncertain about the party’s future under Mahanta.
However, it remains to be seen how this section of MLAs will react to today’s development. There are indications of a new regional outfit being floated.
Mahanta, a two-time former chief minister of the state, today expounded the necessity of a “single-power centre” for the smooth functioning of a political party.
“In Congress, the power centre is the Gandhi family. Similarly, in the BJP, the power centre is Narendra Modi. But it is not seen in our party where multiple power centres exist,” he said.
Mahanta told the representatives of various districts about necessity of unity among party members to regain the faith of the masses, which had drifted away from the regional party because of factionalism, lack of direction and series of electoral setbacks.
Like yesterday, he once again told them that he was taking responsibility of the party’s poor performance in the last Lok Sabha elections.
“I have entrusted Atul Bora, our working president, to lead the party. All of you join hands and hold a political convention to make the party stronger,” Mahnata said.
He arrived at the meeting, which was presided over by Bora, around noon and left after attending its proceedings for over two hours. The meeting was delayed by an hour owing to, among others, rainwater disrupting traffic.
The district representatives had divided opinions on Mahanta’s resignation and functioning of the party. While a section of them openly advocated a change of guard, others thought leadership change would not help the party.
“We become confused when we see chaos in the central committee. Instead of sitting in the city, the members of the central committee should go to the people,” said a representative from Charaideo in Sivasagar district.
“Unless we draw the leaders from other organisations with regional sentiments and indigenous communities to the party, it will never become strong. The people of Assam should see hope in the party. We have failed to take up major issues that concern the masses,” another member said.
A member from Udalguri on the north bank of the Brahmaputra said he did not want Mahanta to resign.
“The party will disappear one day if everybody goes away by shirking responsibility. Some of us have already done much harm to the party by leaving it after using it for one’s self-interest,” he said.
There was ruckus among the party members when one Mamoni Bora, a party executive member from Batadrava in Nagaon district, insisted on speaking something after Mahanta finished his lecture.
Atul Bora refused to give her a chance to speak as she was already allowed to speak yesterday. When Mamoni Bora insisted, some party members from outside the room shouted that she be expelled from the meeting.