The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AGP opts for ‘local’ tie-ups with BJP

Guwahati, July 2: Differences have cropped up within the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) over whether to cultivate ties with the BJP at a time when its ranks are already divided over a reconciliation with former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

Having failed to reach a consensus on the issue, the party leadership has now chosen the middle path ' it has entrusted district units with the responsibility of making “local-level arrangements” with the BJP, according to their own convenience.

The district units have been allowed to make adjustments for the state panchayat elections, scheduled to be held in December. These units have been asked to present their views at a party central council meeting on July 30.

In a series of stock-taking meetings conducted by the party to find the cause for its “unexpected defeat” in the Assembly elections, the need for an electoral pact with the national party was highlighted.

“We share a common vote base with the BJP and unless we contest elections together, neither party stands good chances of winning,” said an AGP general secretary, who is also a legislator.

He added that several rounds of informal discussions have been held with the BJP, which, too, is keen on a long-term alliance.

He argued that just because the alliance had floundered once in 2001, it would be wrong to shut the door on any future tie-up.

“In 2001, the situation was different. There was a massive anti-incumbency wave against the AGP,” he pointed out, insisting that the party should not forget its original vote base while reaching out to new areas.

Not surprisingly, the AGP’s minority cell is opposed to any truck with the BJP. It believes the minorities would be further alienated from the party if it joins hands with the BJP.

An influential section of the leadership is also insisting that Mahanta and other disgruntled leaders be invited to its “pathfinder meeting” in August. But AGP chief Brindaban Goswami and his loyalists are opposed to any reconciliation with estranged leaders, particularly the former chief minister.

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