The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AGP unites to regain lost touch

Dhekial (Golaghat), Jan. 5: Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president Brindaban Goswami and his predecessor, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, today put up a rare show of unity at the launch of a mission to regain the party’s “lost touch”.

Goswami and Mahanta sat next to each other on the dais during the party’s annual convention here, setting at rest speculation about a showdown between AGP factions owing allegiance to the two leaders.

Both leaders hit out at an unnamed faction, saying it was trying to cause a rift in the AGP. “An anti-party lobby has become very active, trying to divide party workers. This is one of the reasons for our debacle in the last elections,” Goswami said.

The AGP chief said the media was being fed with sensational, albeit unsubstantiated details about a clash of egos within the party. “We should not become emotional after reading such reports. Instead, we should sort out our differences through discussions,” Goswami said.

Echoing his party colleague, Mahanta said, “This very lobby worked against me when I was chief minister and is still doing everything it can to harm me.”

The former chief minister urged his colleagues to work for a better and “brighter Assam”.

Coming together after the unexpected victory in the Khumtai bypoll, Goswami and Mahanta appeared relaxed and conversed throughout the proceedings.

The choice of venue was significant, Dhekial being the commercial hub of Khumtai constituency and the place where chief minister Tarun Gogoi had kicked off the Congress’ campaign for the bypoll.

“Trust among AGP workers is the need of the hour,” Goswami told party workers. “We should complete the unfinished task of building a better Assam. Harbouring mistrust and differences will only harm us,” he said.

He hinted that the AGP might not forge alliances with any party in future. He claimed that the party had suffered for the faults of its allies on several occasions.

Stressing the need to decentralise power — an old AGP mantra — Mahanta said regional parties like his would continue to play a major role in national politics. He said insurgency in Assam was different from that of Jammu & Kashmir or Andhra Pradesh.

“We have different tribes speaking different languages. Interests of all these tribes and non-tribal communities have to be kept in mind in trying to find a solution to the problem of insurgency,” he said.

The general council meeting was attended by all senior AGP functionaries, barring former minister Sahidul Alam Choudhury and former Speaker Ganesh Kutum. The party decided to constitute all its district committees by April 16.

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