The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mahanta takes on AGP rivals

Guwahati, Oct. 17: Former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today made his boldest move since being sidelined by the AGP leadership, demanding an emergency meeting of the party’s central executive committee to raise questions that could embarrass his rival, Brindaban Goswami.

Sources said a signature campaign had begun to force the party leadership to accede to the demand. If convened, it will be the first emergency conclave of the central executive committee in the party’s history.

A Mahanta loyalist said some major developments, including alleged interference in AGP affairs by the All Assam Students’ Union, necessitated such a meeting.

The cracks in the AGP widened when the leadership excluded Mahanta, its founder president and chief minister for two terms, from the list of special invitees to the party’s 18th Foundation Day celebrations on Tuesday.

“There is no place for dictatorship in the AGP,” Mahanta said in a one-page statement after holding court at the AGP headquarters here even as Goswami and his acolytes attended the Foundation Day function in Dhemaji.

The Mahanta camp claims to have mustered the support of over 50 of the 96 executive members of the party.

The AGP constitution states that the consent of one-third of the members of the central executive is mandatory to convene a special meeting. The party president is required to do so within 15 days of receiving the formal petition.

The central executive has 106 seats, but the strength of the panel is 96 at present.

Mahanta loyalists are awaiting Goswami’s return to the city to submit their petition. “If he does not arrive within the next couple of days, we will submit it at the party headquarters by adhering to the formalities,” one of them said.

Neither Goswami nor Mahanta were available for comment. The former AGP president is at his ancestral home in Nagaon, while his successor is in Tezpur.

Former minister and Mahanta aide Sahidul Alam Choudhury confirmed that signatures of executive members were being collected in support of a special session to “discuss party matters”.

Another former minister, Rekharani Das Boro, said she favoured the idea of holding an executive committee meeting to “strengthen the party through free and frank discussions”.

General secretary and AGP Legislature Party chief whip Hitendra Nath Goswami, however, denied knowledge of the signature campaign.

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