EVEN AS the Election Commission’s notification for the Assam assembly elections is expected to be out in a day or two, the BJP on Wednesday arrived at an understanding with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), with union minister and state BJP chief Sarbananda Sonowal saying it was done “to ensure a crushing defeat on the Congress”.
“We have agreed in principle with the AGP to go together in the Assam assembly elections and ensure a crushing defeat on the Congress and its ally AIUDF. We also agreed to work together to ensure security to the greater indigenous Assamese community and will come out with a common agenda in the next few days,” Sonowal told The Indian Express.
He, however, said the finer details, including seat-sharing, would be worked out in the “next two or three days”.
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With the tie-up with AGP, the BJP now has two allies in Assam, the other being the Bodo People’s Front (BPF). “We also have the Rabha and Tiwa community leaders with us,” said Sonowal.
The two parties arrived at the agreement at a meeting of a top AGP delegation at BJP national president Amit Shah’s residence in New Delhi that lasted for about two hours. While the AGP delegation was led by party president Atul Bora and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, state BJP president Sarbananda Sonowal, state election campaign committee chief Himanta Biswa Sarma and BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav were also present.
AGP president Atul Bora said the regional party, which had originally resolved to go it alone, arrived at an understanding with the BJP “in the larger interest of the state, including ensuring a total rout of the Congress”.
“Our common agenda includes ensuring a total rout of the Congress, and taking permanent steps to provide security to the larger Assamese community that includes all ethnic groups and all genuine Indian citizens,” said Bora.
This is the fourth time since the 2001 assembly elections that the BJP and AGP have forged an alliance. The two parties had earlier joined hands in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
The tie-up, however, will not be an easy task to carry forward — both BJP and AGP grassroot workers expressed displeasure as their leaders held informal meetings in the past few weeks. Members and supporters of both parties also staged protests in some constituencies opposing the alliance.
The BJP, which won only five seats in the 2011 assembly elections with 12.9 per cent vote share, won seven of the state’s 14 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 with a total vote share of 37 per cent. The AGP, which won 10 seats in 2011 with a 19.72 per cent vote share, won no seat in 2014.
The Congress, which has won three successive assembly elections since 2001, won 78 seats and polled 39.42 per cent in 2011, but suffered a major setback in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when it won just three seats with about 30 per cent vote share.