BJP Assam will get majority of seats in Panchayat Polls: Ranjit Das
A lot of effort was put in to stitch a poll partnership between Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But it seems the regional party is hell-bent on going it alone. The primary reason of AGP going alone is its opportunity of using the evident resentment among people of Assam against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to its advantage. Plus, AGP wants to get back to the grassroots level to increase their vote share for future polls.
The BJP seems confident of getting majority of the seats in the polls without any coalition.
Party leaders are confident that the poll results will not be affected by the decision of AGP to opt out of the coalition and the saffron party will make a mark in the panchayat polls.
According to BJP state president, Ranjit Das, “BJP is going to get the maximum number of seats and will lead the seat tally. We had no partnership in the 2014 general elections and yet we managed to win 7 parliamentary seats. This time, we are again competing all alone and will win comfortably. In fact, there is no actual contest for BJP in this election."
With AGP out of the partnership for this election, BJP has cobbled-up smaller parties to contest the polls.
“Seat sharing arrangement has been made with Ganashakti, Tiwa Jatiya Aikya Mancha and the Rabha Joutha Sangram Samiti,” saidDas.
BJP state general secretary, Dilip Saikia said that in many seats there will be friendly contests with the AGP. The district committees and the constituency committees have been entrusted with the task of taking forward the friendship and negotiations.
State BJP spokesperson, Rupam Goswami was optimistic about the polls saying, “We will be leading the polls, there should be no doubt. The people are with us and they know the work done by the party and the Sarbananda Sonwal-led government.”
On friendship with AGP, Goswami was clear that BJP had laid a red carpet welcome for the regional party and agreed to negotiate on district and constituency levels but AGP did not agree to it. This time, the people of Assam will give a decisive mandate and won't be carried away by emotions, said Goswami.
Interestingly, BJP stalwart and cabinet minister, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma told media persons in Guwahati that like the past assembly election in 2016, the party will show good results.
BJP gives priority to women, nominates 102 out of 251
For the 420 Zila Parishad constituencies BJP has announced the names of its candidates for 251 seats. Keeping the women representation in mind, the party gave 102 seats to woman candidates.
The list was announced in the state BJP headquarters at Hengrabari on Tuesday, by general secretary, Dilip Saikia and organisation secretary, Phanindra Nath Sarma.
Interestingly, for the first phase to be held on December 5, the party announced its nominees for 196 Zila Parishad (ZP) seats. Names of candidates for the remaining 55 seats that the party is contesting will be announced shortly. Women constitute a majority of 62% in the 196 ZP list.
The announced list comprises candidates from districts of upper Assam, central Assam and the north bank, besides Kamrup and Kamrup (Metro).
The party's district and mandal units have started releasing the list of the candidature of gaon panchayat (GP) ward members, GP presidents and anchalik panchayat members.
The first phase of polling on 5th December will be held in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Charaideo, Jorhat, Majuli, Golaghat, Nagaon, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Biswanath, Sonitpur, Darrang, Morigaon and Kamrup.
The second phase on 9th November will be held in Nalbari, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Dhubri, South Salmara-Mankachar, Goalpara, Kachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi and Hojai.
The last date of filing of nomination papers for the first phase was 15 November and for second phase is 19 November. The BJP and its partners will contest in all the seats.
AGP trying to make the most of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to strengthen its grassroots base
The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is a partner in the BJP-led government in Assam along with Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and other small parties. But due to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 the party has taken an aggressive stance by coming out openly to protest against the bill. There has been a tug of war between AGP and BJP over the issue and the regional party is clear in its stand.
“We will remain in the government and continue protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The day the government decides to implement it we will leave this government. AGP was formed to serve the Assamese people and we will never support this anti-Assamese bill. The identity of the Assamese community is supreme and AGP will fight tooth and nail against this bill. The party has been time and again fighting for the rights and issues of the Assamese people and so this time we are contesting the Panchayat polls on our own to strengthen the indigenous base,” said AGP leader and cabinet minister, Kesab Mahanta.
Former chief minister and founder of AGP, Prafulla Mahanta was clear about the party’s stand. "It was first the BJP President who announced that they will go solo in the polls. In the recent AGP meet it was decided that our party will contest the polls independently, so there has to be no controversy. In the last parliamentary election our general house had taken a decision that Assam Gana Parishad would go solo and we stood by that decision. I was the president then. We could not win a single seat due to various reasons and I was solely blamed for it, that, it was because of Prafulla Mahanta the party had failed to score in the 2014 elections.”
On any thin chances of alliance for the panchayat polls, the former party president had this to say, “The top party functionaries have unanimously decided that AGP will contest without any alliance, and now, if we go back to what we have decided in an open forum then there is no ethical politics left. For the upcoming panchayat polls I believe the AGP should try to strengthen itself without leaning on other parties. Our aim should be to strengthen the panchayats starting from the wards to the zila parishads. Our loss or wins will only help reveal our strengths and weaknesses.”
Grassroots workers want to contest independently: Himanta Biswa Sarma
There was a lot of confusion on whether the AGP-BJP partnership will continue for the panchayat polls. The media was flooded with mixed comments by leaders of all levels of both the parties and it became evident that something was cooking.
To clear the air and the confusion Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma finally came forward and stated that the AGP and BJP will fight the panchayat polls independently irrespective of the arrangement at the state cabinet.
Dr Sarma revealed that a lot of protests from grassroots workers of both the parties who were not in favour of an alliance led to this arrangement.
Speaking to media persons, the master strategist of BJP said that panchayat elections were not like assembly polls as it involves election of grassroots level workers. 2,200 village panchayat presidents, anchalik panchayat members and 420 Zilla Parishad (ZP) members have to be elected, plus, ward members for village panchayats, said Dr Sarma.
“To come to an arrangement for seat sharing for such a large number of members is not possible. That's why we had asked for coordination and understanding at district and constituency levels.
But it was evident that both the BJP and AGP workers were not interested in fighting the polls together as none of the districts came forward with a partnership agreement. The district committees from both the parties have come up with their own list of candidates and there is no sharing with any party in the lists. So, there is no coalition between AGP and BJP for the panchayat polls,” said Dr Sarma.
Further, AGP leaders Birendra Prasad Baishya, Dr Kamala Kalita and Ramendra Narayan Kalita, in a meeting with BJP party functionaries, had clearly stated that AGP wanted to go alone to the polls, said Dr Sarma.