The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AGP delegation dashes to Delhi on BJP tie-up

Guwahati, March 4: The AGP and the BJP appeared to be inching towards a seat-sharing understanding with a five-member high-level delegation of the regional party holding discussions with leaders of the main partner in the ruling National Democratic Alliance.

The delegation had airdashed to Delhi last evening.

The AGP delegation comprises vice-president Dilip Saikia, general secretaries Biren Baishya, Phani Bhushan Choudhury and Chandra Mohan Patowary and Rajya Sabha MP Arun Kumar Sarma.

“The team went to Delhi on the invitation of deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani,” said AGP leader Sarbananda Sonowal. He, however, refused to divulge if he had any discussion with any senior central BJP leaders on the issue during his recent visit to the capital.

Another top AGP leader told The Telegraph both parties are convinced that they must join hands to keep the Congress at bay. The Congress has 10 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Sources said the AGP is eyeing four seats for its candidates — Tezpur, Lakhimpur, Mangaldoi and Dhubri — while agreeing to a friendly contest with the BJP in Kaliabor.

The AGP leader, not wishing to be named, said the North East People’s Forum, an umbrella organisation of various regional parties and the BJP, was also mounting pressure on the AGP to agree to a seat adjustment.

The sources said the AGP has few candidates who are sure to win. “Under the circumstances, and to checkmate the Congress, the party has to settle for an understanding with the BJP,” one of them said. The two parties share a common votebank.

On the other hand, despite the BJP’s public posturing against an alliance or understanding with the AGP, the party has come round to the view — going by the reactions in the state — that Bhupen Hazarika’s entry has damaged its chances. A “practical and workable” arrangement with the regional party had, therefore, become necessary to achieve the common goal of defeating the Congress.

Sources said the AGP delegation is expected to meet Union law minister Arun Jaitley, finance minister Jaswant Singh and health and family welfare minister Sushma Swaraj within a couple of days after finalising the deal with the second-ranking leader.

The AGP delegation today also held separate meetings with Nationalist Congress Party leader P.A. Sangma. Rajya Sabha MP and former All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) president Urkhao Brahmo has also been trying to impress upon the two parties the need to arrive at an understanding.

Jayashree meets Naidu

Former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta’s wife Jayashree today met BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu, adds PTI from New Delhi.

Jayashree, a former Rajya Sabha MP, met Naidu at his residence in New Delhi for 10 minutes. Naidu’s office described it as a “courtesy call”. Jayashree Mahanta was not available for comments.

The former Assam chief minister was in Delhi earlier this week amid speculation that he was considering joining the BJP. However, Naidu had denied such a move.

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