The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mahanta flock seeks executive meeting

Guwahati, Oct. 18: The Prafulla Kumar Mahanta camp continued its march to prove that it was not a spent force within the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). The loyalists of the party’s founder president submitted a formal requisition this afternoon for an emergency meeting of the party’s central executive committee.

While this led to intense speculation about a possible vertical split in the Opposition party, moderates in both the camps reportedly went into a huddle to work out a rapprochement formula between the Mahanta camp and the Brindaban Goswami-led present dispensation.

An in-camera, one-to-one meeting between Mahanta and Goswami during the next few days, to “sort out their differences”, is not ruled out, party sources said. Even some of Goswami’s loyalists are believed to have approached Mahanta this evening to desist from any kind of aggression in the interest of keeping the party intact.

The requisition for the special executive meeting was signed by more than one-third members of the executive committee as stipulated in the party’s constitution. It was submitted at the party headquarters here by two senior leaders — former MP Prabin Sharma and former education minister Jatin Mali.

The Mahanta camp claimed to have mustered the support of over 50 of the 96 executive members. The central executive can accommodate 106 members, but its present strength is 96 owing to resignations and deaths.

If a compromise formula is not reached, Goswami will be required to convene the meeting within the next 15 days. This is the first requisition meeting of its kind in the AGP since its inception in 1985.

Goswami, who returned here this evening from Tezpur, said he was yet to receive the requisition for the special executive session.

“I have failed to understand what prompted some members to requisition a meeting of the central executive as meetings of the executive are being held regularly to take decisions on important party matters through consensus. If the subject matter mentioned in the requisition letter is really urgent, we have no objection to discuss it in the party forum,” he said.

The demand for the meeting is to discuss, among other issues, interference by the influential All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in the internal affairs of the party.

Mahanta loyalists have decided to corner the AGP president in the requisitioned meeting for his alleged silence over the threat issued by AASU leaders to prevent the entry of the former chief minister in the forthcoming party conference at Tezpur.

The development comes in the wake of the commemoration of the party’s 18th Foundation Day on October 14 at Dhemaji, where Mahanta was not invited. Mahanta had held his own conclave at the party headquarters the same day here to send a clear message to his detractors that he was not going to lie low and that “there is no place for dictatorship in the AGP”.

In a one-page statement released on the day, Mahanta had exhorted party workers to be on guard against attempts to turn the party into a “personal fiefdom and puppet” of a select few.

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