AGP unification amid scepticism - Sections still unsure about party fortunes

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By SAMIR K. PURKAYASTHA in Golaghat
  • Published 14.10.08
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AGP members and supporters at the unification function in Golaghat on Tuesday. Picture by Eastern Projections

Golaghat, Oct. 14: His weather-beaten and age-wisened face was a study in contrast to the thousands of cheering and singing people.

Clad in a spotless white dhoti and khadi kurta, septuagenarian Soneswar Hazarika stood with an emotionless face, unmoved by the 20,000 people around him, swaying and clapping in unison to the tune of the AGP theme song ‘Asom Gana Parishad tumak chiro namaskar’.

As the formal unification of the party was announced today, the leaders on the dais, too, were tapping their feet and clapping. But the aged man from Adhasatra, a small hamlet some 2km from this town, was not willing to break into a jig as yet.

“I was witness to the birth of the AGP in this very field in 1985. I had cheered and danced my heart out as my dreams had got wings that day. Today, I have no dream, no expectation. In the past 23 years, I have seen many a false dawn,” Hazarika said.

The reason for his scepticism was the past record of the AGP. The party has in its chequered history witnessed several splits and reunions. Little wonder, not everyone here today was convinced that there would be no further division in the party.

After all, the AGP leadership, despite several attempts in the past few days, failed to convince former president Brindaban Goswami, who did not turn up for today’s meeting.

Though party leaders tried to hardsell their electoral prospects with an impressive star cast, certain sections of them admitted in private that the battle was only half won.

“By roping in the virtual who’s who of regional politics in the state, we have been able to make the right noises which is very important to strike a chord with the electorate. We also tried to regain the faith of our disillusioned supporters by creating an impression that we are starting with as clean a slate as in 1985. But all these are not enough,” said a party member.

He pointed out that the AGP was yet to evolve into a party with a strong organisational support base.

Apart from this, the AGP has also not been able to expand its area of influence among the minorities and tea tribes. The party also has very little presence in the Barak Valley, two hill districts of Karbi Anglong and NC Hills and in the Bodo Territorial Council areas.