More than two months after the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) walked out of the BJP alliance in Assam, the two parties have finalised a pre-poll alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, setting aside their differences over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The terms of the alliance including seat-sharing are not public yet.
The national general secretary of BJP, Ram Madhav, tweeted, “After discussion, BJP and AGP have decided to work together in the coming Parliament election in Assam to defeat Congress. Announced it at Guwahati in the presence of Himanta Biswa Sarma of BJP and Atul Bora and Keshav Mahanta of AGP. BPF [Bodoland People’s Front] will be the 3rd partner in the alliance.”
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In the 2016 elections to the 126-member Assam Assembly, the winning alliance comprised of the BJP (61 seats), the BPF (13 seats) and the AGP (14 seats). The BJP and the AGP had come together with the agenda of overthrowing the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government.
But in January this year, the AGP walked out of the alliance after failing to convince the BJP that the Bill is a “threat” to the state and is considered to be against the basic principles of the 1985 Assam Accord. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha but lapsed after not being tabled in the Rajya Sabha. Senior BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, have, however, reiterated that the party will try to “bring the Bill again”.
After discussion, BJP and AGP have decided to work together in the coming Parliament election in Assam to defeat Congress. Announced it at Guwahati in d presence of Himanta Biswa Sarma of BJP and Atul Bora and Keshav Mahanta of AGP. BPF will be d 3rd partner in d alliance. pic.twitter.com/QxVG9fbwXS
— Ram Madhav (@rammadhavbjp) March 12, 2019
In February, the AGP had formed a nine-membered committee headed by its chief Atul Bora to look into possibilities of forming an alliance.
The Bill proposes to make non-Muslim minority immigrants from three neighbouring countries, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, eligible for Indian citizenship via comparatively relaxed norms. As per the 1985 Assam Accord, any person who entered Assam after midnight of March 24, 1971, will be identified as a foreigner.
In the 2014 general elections, where the AGP contested alone, it had not won a single seat of the 14 seats in Assam. However, it got around 4 per cent of the vote share. The BJP had won seven seats and around 37 per cent of the vote share. The AGP and BJP had also fought the 2009 elections together, winning one and four seats respectively.
Madhav, who held several rounds of talks in Guwahati and Dimapur, wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday, “While the Opposition is still talking and talking about Mahagatbandhan, we already have ours in place in the North East and the rest of the country. The NDA is a much stronger coalition today than before.”
“This alliance has the potential of winning not less than 22 out of 25 seats in the region and playing an important role in seeing Modiji as the PM once again,” he added.