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Assam’s kingmaker weighs options afresh

Hagrama Mohilary bailed out Cong last time; ifs and buts involved this time

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati | Published: April 29, 2011 1:16:22 am

Two weeks ahead of counting,Assam’s leading political parties have started lobbying for partnerships that can take them to the magic figure. Going by indications,there is little likelihood of any party getting 63 or more seats in a House of 126.

In the event of a hung house,the key will lie with the Bodo People’s Front (BPF). It bailed out the Congress last time but might not do so this time; its decision could depend on who else the Congress chooses to ally with.

The BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) have started reaching out to the BPF to wean it away from the Congress. BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary has already given some signals,especially about his party’s reluctance to become part of a government alongside Badruddin Ajmal of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).

“I would rather side with the AGP and the BJP (if these two come together) if a situation arises when the Congress has to seek the support of the AIUDF,” Mohilary has already said.

The rider is that the Bodoland People’s Progressive Front (BPPF),the other Bodo party,is already in alliance with the AGP. If the BPPF wins a couple of seats,the AGP will not be able to accommodate both Bodo parties.

On record,the Congress continues to claim it will win between 63 and 65 seats and form the government on its own. “The people have largely voted for us because of the work we have done in the past 10 years,” claims Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi,adding the Congress will carry on with its alliance with the BPF even if it gets a majority.

The AGP and the BJP dismiss the Congress claim. “We are going to get 53 to 55 seats and the Congress tally will dip further from the 53 it won in 2006,” asserts AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowari.

The AGP has an alliance with three tribal parties — the ASDC and the Gana Shakti besides the BPPF — and together it is hoping to touch the magic figure.

The BJP says Assam will have a non-Congress government. The party’s alliance with the AGP,forged during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections,was called off a few months ago. But both parties have given signals of joining hands after the results in order to keep the Congress out.

The AIUDF has run into rough weather over the ongoing speculation over the post-poll scenario. AIUDF president Ajmal has suspended working president Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury for alleged anti-party activities. Choudhury had quit the candidate selection panel last month,accusing Ajmal of changing its final list.

“I have sensed the possibility of the AIUDF extending support to the Congress,” Choudhury said,adding this would be wrong.

In the Congress,those opposed to taking the AIUDF’s support want Gogoi to continue as CM if the party forms the government. Another lobby prefers APCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita.

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