Accepted as a major partner vis-a-vis Assembly polls,the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is hopeful of contesting 72 of the 126 seats in alliance with the BJP.
Vidhan Sabha elections are due in 2011,but we have been assured by the BJP leadership that the pattern of the current seat-sharing arrangement for Lok Sabha polls eight of the 14 seats for BJP and six for AGP will be reversed during the Assembly polls, AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary told The Indian Express.
On the rationale for the allocation of 72 seats,Patowary said the AGP would expect the BJP to leave all those seats for the regional party which had elected its
nominees in the 1985 and 1996 polls. Their number comes to 72, he added.
Thus,the BJP would be left with 54 seats.
Patowary made it clear that the AGP had only entered into a seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP and not joined the NDA. The move is intended to maintain a bit of distance from the BJP. While the AGP may believe that this would be enough to convince its potential Muslim voters that it has not gone the whole hog with the BJP,the question remains whether it would dispel their misgivings.
The AGP president ruled out a joint manifesto too. Sources in the BJP said they were not worried by the AGP stance,which could be at best termed just technical. Once Patowary had publicly vowed to back L K Advani for the prime ministership and undertaken to join hands with the BJP to contest the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls,his decision to stay out of the alliance had no relevance.
Patowary said he had handed over five points to the BJP leadership for inclusion in the NDA agenda,and for a follow-up action if the alliance came to power. The first is the issue of infiltration. We would want the NDA Government to take effective steps to check infiltration from Bangladesh, he added.