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AGP hints at snapping pre-poll ties with BJP
Published on 29 Jan. 2010 1:14 AM IST
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Former Assam chief minister and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) founder Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has indicated discontinuing the pre-poll understanding with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “We must maintain our secular image and also our regional character. We must understand the desire of the people of Assam in so far as political alignments or re-alignments (are concerned),” Mahanta told a news agency. The AGP-BJP alliance suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Congress party during the 2001 assembly elections and also in the 2009 parliamentary polls with the AGP winning just one seat and the BJP in four of the 14 seats in Assam. He said the party would win the 2011 assembly elections only if internal squabbles are stopped and the leadership is able to put up a united fight to topple the ruling Congress. “First of all, we have to unite and put up a spirited fight focussing on the main problems in the state, besides resolving any infighting or differences within the party,” Mahanta said. The AGP is desperately seeking power after being in political wilderness since the party lost the 2001 assembly elections to the Congress. The party again lost the 2006 state elections, miserably failed to make any mark in the 2004 and 2009 parliamentary polls and the local council elections last year. “When a party remains out of power for a long period, obviously it becomes more difficult to bounce back. But I still believe the AGP would be able to win the support of the people of Assam if we are focussed,” he said. Mahanta, twice chief minister of the state, re-joined the party in 2008, four years after he was unceremoniously expelled on charges of anti-party activities. He formed a splinter group called the AGP-Progressive after he was replaced as party president in 2001 on an alleged bigamy charge. Mahanta denied the charge. There are indications that Mahanta is trying to claw back with a number of AGP leaders backing him for the president’s post. “I am ready to take up any position or responsibilities as desired by the party,” he said. Meanwhile, the former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, today dismissed suggestions that the party needed a change in leadership to give a tough fight against the ruling Congress in Assam. “Leadership is not an issue…what is needed the most is strengthening the party from the grassroot level and addressing their grievances,” Mahanta told reporters during an informal chat here. When asked whether he would again accept the party’s top post now occupied by Chandra Mohan Patowary, the two-time former chief minister said “leadership is not an issue and is not the hot topic now.” “The need of the hour is to strengthen the party for next year’s assembly poll as the Congress has won the last two successive terms,” Mahanta said. Replying to a question whether the AGP should continue its alliance with the BJP, the former chief minister said he favoured electoral adjustments with regional parties. “Alliances with regional parties is required as AGP is a regional party and there was a need to unite all the regional parties against the misrule of the Congress,” he said.

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