Former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said Thursday he opposed the pre-poll alliance between the BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), adding that he would not campaign for any candidate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The AGP has its roots in the Assam Movement — a six-year-long anti-foreigner movement spearheaded by Mahanta that led to the signing of the historic Assam Accord in 1985 by the leaders of the agitation with the Rajiv Gandhi government. As per the Accord, any person who entered Assam after midnight of March 24, 1971, will be identified as a foreigner.
Mahanta has also been at the forefront of the opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the state. The Bill – which proposes to make non-Muslim minority immigrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship via comparatively relaxed norms – was passed in the Lok Sabha, but it lapsed after not being tabled in the Rajya Sabha.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Thursday, Mahanta — the founder-president but now sidelined leader of the AGP — said, “The AGP’s executive committee was not in favour of the alliance. Party workers are confused… I have been receiving calls since the alliance was made. Many state executive members say they want to resign after this.”
“I was not kept in the loop in the decision making… ,” he said, adding that the AGP will lose credibility due to the alliance with BJP.
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Mahanta reiterated that the Citizenship Bill posed a “threat” to Assam, was in violation of the secular principles of the Indian Constitution, and was against the basic principles of the 1985 Assam Accord.
“BJP will be benefitting from this alliance while the AGP will lose. AGP is a secular party but the BJP only looks after the interests of the Hindus. This friendship and alliance between the two parties will create a confusion that the BJP is also a secular party,” Mahanta said.
However AGP president Atul Bora refuted Mahanta’s allegations late on Thursday and told The Indian Express, “He was part of the decision making process and gave his consent.”