Former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta on Thursday ruled out any possible “split” in the AGP over differences of opinion on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) among its leaders. Mahanta is the founding member of the regional party.
Talks of a possible split in the AGP are doing the rounds as party president Atul Bora and two other senior AGP leaders Keshab Mahanta and Phani Bhusan Choudhury continue to hold their ministries in the BJP-led state government even after the party decided to oppose the CAA.
Though Mahanta has been continuously vocal against CAA, the AGP is facing public anger for sticking to the BJP. The AGP walked out of the alliance with the BJP prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, but later refreshed its alliance.
“We will not allow any split in the AGP. The party had long back decided to oppose CAA when it was a bill. The party’s decision is still the same. Those who have betrayed the people of the state will have to pay for their acts. People will judge them,” Mahanta said.
The AGP had faced multiple splits, mostly because of differences in leadership.
The party first underwent a split in 1991 when several AGP leaders, including party veteran Bhrigu Kumar Phukan and others formed Natun (new) AGP. However, the faction came back to the party fold in 1992.
In 2000, party leader Atul Bora (senior) walked out of the party and formed the Trinamool Gana Parishad. In 2005, after Mahanta was expelled from the party allegedly for anti-party activities, the former chief minister formed AGP (Progressive). After reconciling their differences finally in October 2008, all breakaway groups rejoined.
Reasserting the party’s stand, Mahanta added: “The AGP is the first party to oppose the bill as it violates the Assam Accord and is against the Assam Agitation. When we started opposing the bill, no other group or party had protested. But now all have joined our movement. The AGP will continue to oppose CAA in any form in future.”
Though Mahanta did not speak of any possible ousting of any senior leaders from the party for having different opinions on the CAA, party insiders said a strong sense of anger against a few party leaders has been brewing inside the AGP. Party sources said the ensuing general house meeting of the AGP may witness a change of guard.
“Current party president Atul Bora’s term is almost ending and the general house meeting may decide to change the party leadership,” said an AGP source. Bora’s three-year term as party president will end in December and the general house meeting is likely to be held in a month.
Mahanta, in an oblique statement, said: “A BJP minister is trying to malign my image by falsely accusing me of things I have not done. He must not forget that his past is buried under criminal records and corruption charges.”
On Wednesday, state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had alleged that Mahanta had betrayed the martyrs of Assam Agitation by not taking steps when he was in power.