GUWAHATIi: In poll-bound Assam, regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and BJP aligned last week to avoid the split of anti-Congress votes. Days later, they disagreed on the alliance with sections of leaders and workers, who wanted the parties to go it alone in the polls, floating breakaway factions Trinamool BJP and AGP Anchalikatabadi Mancha.
The two new parties will field candidates in the 24 constituencies that BJP left for AGP as per their seat-sharing arrangement. AGP Anchalikatabadi Mancha is headed by former AGP youth wing president Sunil Rajkonwar. Former AGP ministers Thaneswar Bodo and Bhaben Barua are its advisors. Biswajit Phukan, who is close to BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma, is believed to have taken the lead in floating Trinamool BJP.
Ignoring statewide protests by workers, AGP and BJP had sealed the poll deal in Delhi at the residence of BJP national president Amit Shah. The two parties are viewed natural allies as they maintain a similar stand on many issues, including illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Making their pact public, the two had said that their coming together was to rid the state of the immigrants.
The grassroots workers, however, felt the parties could have done better by going it alone in the polls. Trinamool BJP described as “unfortunate” the BJP leadership not taking the party workers into confidence before finalising the alliance with AGP. “We are hurt, but we will follow the ideology of BJP. We will contest all the seats that BJP has left for AGP. We are focusing on constituting the local committees in constituencies where we are contesting. Our central committee will be constituted later,” Phukan told The Sunday Standard.
The AGP is still a force to reckon with in the polls. The party has 10 MLAs as against BJP’s six, but it accepted BJP’s offer of a meagre 24 of the 126 seats. The meek surrender enraged AGP workers so much that they vented their ire across the state, and vandalised the party’s head office in Guwahati. BJP workers too hit the streets, protesting against the alliance with the “beggars’ party”.
“Alliance is struck with friends, not enemies. BJP has hatched a conspiracy against AGP to slowly kill the party. How can AGP workers accept the alliance with BJP?” Rajkonwar argued. He wondered how AGP stitched the alliance when it viewed BJP and Congress as anti-Assam.
Earlier, the ruling Congress had said that BJP’s basic idea of forging the tie-up with AGP was to kill the regional party. If BJP has grown rapidly in the state over the past few years, it has been at the expense of AGP. AGP was born out of the anti-foreigners’ agitation of 1980’s and ruled the state twice, but is now fighting for survival. The slide began at the end of its second term in power in 2001.
BJP is optimistic about forming the government. In the 2011 Assembly polls, AGP bagged 10 seats, but in 46 constituencies, it managed to poll between 20,000 and 40,000 votes. BJP is aware of the damage AGP could inflict in its poll prospects and as such, warmed up to the regional party. But the splits will surely do no good to the two parties.