AGP loses Face Big Time with their Latest Move of Re-Alliance with BJP
GUWAHATI: Just ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, high political drama is doing the rounds in the state. After the recent re-alliance of AGP and BJP, opposition parties are tearing in and terming the alliance as a desperate attempt to stay in power. On 7th January 2019, the AGP left the alliance after the ruling BJP government tried to bring the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 into effect which eventually got lapsed as it was not raised in the last session of the Rajya Sabha before the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Three AGP cabinet ministers including AGP president and state agriculture minister Atul Bora resigned from their ministerial posts in protest against the bill. However, the resignations were not forwarded to the Governor as it was not accepted by the chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The move seemed like a victory for people.
However, things didn’t go accordingly for long. On 12th March, there was a late night meeting in Guwahati among BJP’s national general secretary, Ram Madhav, North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP state president Ranjit Kumar Dass and AGP’s Atul Bora, Keshav Mahanta and Phani Bhushan Choudhury. Both the parties agreed for re-alliance and the deal was sealed. Now, the three parties, that is, the BJP, AGP and the BPF will fight together for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.
Soon after, Ram Madhav tweeted, "After discussion, BJP and AGP have decided to work together in the coming Parliament election in Assam to defeat Congress.” Assam finance minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, said that the seat sharing agreement between the three parties has been finalised and decided on March 16 from New Delhi after a meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah.
However, Himanta Biswa Sarma asserted that the party’s stand on the bill will remain the same from Jan Sangh and there is no need to review it. He also said that the people of the state had given mandate to the alliance during the 2016 state assembly elections and believes that the people will do the same in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.
While the seat sharing is yet to be decided, reports are surfacing that AGP might contest from Dhubri, Barpeta and Kaliabor. While Dhubri and Barpeta are the strongholds of Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF, Kaliabor is a Congress bastion were Gaurav Gogoi is the sitting MP. Both the parties will come out with their list of candidates on 16th March for BJP and on 17th March for AGP respectively.
However, it has to be seen how the alliance performs during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections against the Congress and the AIUDF. What will be more interesting is that whom the people will give their mandate.
Hicupps within the party!
After the re-alliance, a rift has occurred within Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). Many AGP loyalists erupted in anger over the decision; the situation went to such an extent that party workers locked the gates of the party headquarters in Guwahati for 30 minutes in protest against the decision.
Senior AGP leaders Lachit Bardoloi and Hemen Borah submitted their resignations in protest. Bordoloi said that poor leadership has made the party lose its way, which was reflected in the panchayat elections. Hemen Borah said he was taken aback for quite some time after learning about the alliance after which he decided to quit the party.
Several grassroots leaders and workers across the state have also stepped down from the party’s primary membership. He alleged that the party leadership has never informed them about its intention of going with the BJP again. Last month, party spokesperson Dilip Borah and Divas Phukan, too, stepped down after learning about the party’s motive.
Former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, along with other party loyalists, slammed the three leaders for backstabbing and going against the will of the people. Mahanta said that he has been opposing the BJP and supporting the implementation of the Assam Accord. The move by the few party leaders has betrayed the spirit of the Assam movement and the 855 martyrs who laid down their lives. Mahanta alleged that the current leadership has conspired against him by keeping him in the dark and tried to remove him from the party because of his opposition to the alliance.
Mahanta had called party loyalists and the people to come and support the loyalist section to make the party stronger. Now, it remains to be seen whether the AGP leaders can come to a consensus to sort out their differences or if the party will break into two factions.
Opportunity for the opposition?
Amidst all the drama it seems the opposition is trying gain maximum mileage out of the situation. Apart from calling the AGP as opportunist and greedy, the Congress Party came down heavily and accused the regional party of betraying the people and destroying the spirit of the Assam Accord. Former Assam chief minister and veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi said that the alliance is a desperate attempt to save themselves as both the parties know that they cannot win alone; hence they have finally ended up in an alliance. Gogoi further said that the wind is blowing in favour of the Congress for the upcoming election.
Along with the Congress, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi slammed the regional party for the alliance with the saffron party because the BJP had clearly voiced for another Citizenship (Amendment) Bill if voted to power.
Gogoi said that the AGP has betrayed the people of Assam for which the KMSS will oppose the AGP-BJP alliance in the Lok Sabha elections.
Gogoi also said that the AGP must now clear its stand on the much-debated Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. "The AGP leaders must make it public whether they had signed an agreement with the BJP to support the Bill, which is likely to be tabled again if the BJP is voted to power," he said.
Now it remains to be seen what the future course action for the AGP leaders will be.