A possible tie-up between the BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is turning into a troublesome affair for leaders of both parties in Assam as the Assembly elections draw closer.
While a section of senior BJP leaders including state president Sarbananda Sonowal are still looking for a tie-up with the AGP to defeat the Congress, another section is opposed to the idea. A similar situation also prevails in the AGP, with the party yet to decide whether to really clinch a deal with the saffron party.
On Monday, the BJP state office at Hengerabari and the election coordination office at Ulubari – both in Guwahati – witnessed protest demonstrations against a possible alliance staged by party workers from Naharkatiya, Nagaon and some other constituencies. A section of BJP workers also staged a protest in Udalguri against the tie-up with Bodo People’s Front (BPF).
Similar protests were also reported from Bongaigaon and Barpeta districts, as also from constituencies like Kalaigaon, Barhampur, Boko, Lakhimpur and Kamalpur. In most places the protestors claimed that there was no point in tying up with the AGP because the latter had already become non-existent after a mass shift of its workers to the BJP.
State BJP president Sarbananda Sonowal had recently told The Indian Express that though the BJP was capable of winning a majority on its own, it was looking ahead to taking along all regional and ethnic groups in order to ensure a crushing defeat on the Congress.
The AGP, which too is facing similar problems, on Monday saw senior leader and Lakhimpur legislator Utpal Dutta threatening to quit if the regional party entered into an alliance with the BJP. “I will even not hesitate to quit the AGP in the event of a tie-up with the BJP,” Dutta said.
Interestingly, while the regional party is taking a final decision on the issue on Thursday when its central executive committee meets, its president Atul Bora said the AGP would play a crucial role in the formation of the next government in Assam.
The AGP, which had formed government in Assam twice – in 1985 and 1996 – however has suffered in a big way after a number of its top leaders left and joined the BJP in quick succession in the past few years. While BJP president and union sports minister Sonowal was an AGP MP and had joined the saffron party in 2011, other top AGP leaders who joined BJP in recent years include Chandra Mohan Patowari, Hitendra Nath Goswami, Hemanta Kalita, Padma Hazarika, Naba Doley, Jagadish Bhuyan, Queen Ojah, Bijan Mahajan and Sushila Hazarika.