The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AGP rues saffron surge

Guwahati, March 12: With the BJP tasting first blood in its assault on the Congress fortress at Dispur yesterday, the other main Opposition party, the AGP, has gone into a tizzy.

A day after its successful 'Dispur chalo' programme, a buoyant BJP today announced that its next target would be the Assembly elections slated for early next year. But its apparent resurgence has set alarm bells ringing much more loudly in the AGP camp than in the ruling Congress, which is in a much more comfortable position.

Many senior leaders of the main Opposition party were of the view that the BJP was taking over its space and emerging as the only alternative to the Congress, thanks to their own 'lethargic' leadership.

'They are closing in on our territory. Yet, we are unable to read the writing on the wall,' one of them observed. 'At best, we are being seen as a copycat. The BJP has already scored twice over us,' he said.

The leaders today went into a huddle to conduct a post-mortem on the BJP's 'successful' agitation programme against the government yesterday. The party has decided to follow suit on March 28.

A senior AGP leader said the party today held discussions on how to make its own agitation more successful than that of the BJP.

'As a main Opposition party, we should have taken the lead in mobilising a mass-based agitation against this anti-people government. But all these months, we were too busy setting our house in order. Seizing this opportunity, the BJP has taken over the role of the prime Opposition party in the state,' said a party general secretary.

'Our leadership has also been lethargic and uninnovative,' he admitted.

The AGP has its task cut out, particularly among the party's grassroots workers, who have been disillusioned and despondent over their bickering leaders for the past several months.

He pointed out that even in the case of the 'recruitment fiasco', it was the BJP which was the first off the block, calling a statewide 12-hour bandh on February 9.

The bandh evoked near total response. It was then that the AGP woke up and organised rallies across the state on February 15.

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