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Northeast parties in overdrive on Lok Sabha poll nominees

Old allies to share seats
The meeting in Guwahati on Wednesday
The meeting in Guwahati on Wednesday
Picture by UB Photos

A Staff Reporter   |   Guwahati   |   Published 13.03.19, 06:50 PM

Senior Assam cabinet minister and North East Democratic Alliance (Neda) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said seat-sharing with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) has been finalised but it will be announced by the party’s central leadership in New Delhi on March 16 after the BJP Parliamentary Board’s approval.

Sarma said this after a meeting with AGP and BPF leaders at the chief minister’s residence here.

“The BJP-AGP-BPF alliance will win at least 12 of the 14 seats in Assam. Some seats may see friendly contests between the AGP and the BJP. The AGP and the BJP will also jointly address poll rallies and work towards improving coordination between workers of the two parties,” Sarma said.

The BPF has already announced state cabinet minister Pramila Rani Brahma for the Kokrajhar constituency and there are reports that the BJP has ceded the Kaliabor and Barpeta constituencies to the AGP and talks are on for at least one more constituency.

Sarma’s announcement of the alliance on Wednesday afternoon came after a flurry of meetings within and between BJP and AGP leaders on Tuesday. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav announced the alliance through a tweet late on Tuesday night.

The AGP was part of the BJP-led coalition government in Assam but the alliance fell apart in January this year as the BJP had insisted on passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in Parliament.

Sarma on Wednesday said they would resolve their differences with the AGP over the bill.

AGP president Atul Bora said they have tied up with the BJP again since the bill, their main difference, does not exist anymore as it was not tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

Bora said they would resolve all differences with the BJP through “consultation and consensus.” They will meet BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi and finalise seat-sharing, he added.

On the BJP-AGP alliance, Assam PCC president Ripun Bora said the development will “benefit the Congress as the AGP’s mask of regionalism has finally fallen off”. He said the latest development has proved that the AGP’s opposition to the bill was a farce.

The AGP will ally with the ruling BJP despite Shah’s assertion that the party would push the bill after it retains power. Those opposed to the alliance in the AGP said the move would cost the party dear in the eyes of supporters.

“How could you change your decision in less than a month, more so when the BJP has made it clear it was still for the bill,” a Congress general secretary in lower Assam said.

The meeting at the chief minister’s residence lasted for over 45 minutes, said BJP spokesperson Rupam Goswami. “Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Assam BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and Sarma participated in the meeting,” Goswami said.

On the AGP-BJP alliance, All India United Democratic Front general secretary Aminul Islam said the AGP has “betrayed the people of Assam once again”. The people will give a fitting reply to them, he added.

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