GUWAHATI: Denied ticket by his party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), two-time former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has decided against contesting the upcoming Assam elections, his wife and former MP Jayashree Goswami Mahanta said.
“He has taken a decision not to contest the polls but he will keep working for the cause of regionalism,” she said. “He is hurt that the AGP leadership sold off regional sentiment to a national political party,” she added.
The Bahrampur MLA Mahanta, 68, returned from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi last week after undergoing treatment.
He has been serving as a legislator since 1985. In his Bahrampur seat in Central Assam, which he has been representing since 1991, the AGP is not contesting. The party offered the seat to ally BJP as part of their seat-sharing understanding.
Apart from Mahanta, the AGP also denied tickets to MLAs Utpal Dutta (Lakhimpur), Naren Sonowal (Naharkatiya), and Satyabrata Kalita (Kamalpur). They are now weighing options.
Last week, the leaders of AGP (Progressive) or AGP-P, which Mahanta had floated in 2005 protesting his expulsion by the AGP leadership but later merged with the parent party, met the veteran leader, triggering speculations that he might contest as its candidate.
After falling out with the AGP leadership, some leaders had walked out of the party over a period of time and formed an organisation called Asom Sangrami Mancha. They are now trying to revive AGP-P and contest the elections.
The AGP was born out of the six-year-long bloody Assam Agitation which ended with the signing of the historic Assam Accord in 1985 between the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students’ Union. Mahanta, AGP’s founder-president, got increasingly cornered in the party for his opposition to the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
The Assam Accord says the immigrants, irrespective of their faith, who entered Assam after March 24 (midnight), 1971 have to detected and deported. But the CAA seeks to protect the non-Muslim immigrants who entered India till December 31, 2014. Mahanta could not accept it and he kept voicing his protest against it within and outside the AGP platform. His posture, however, only took him further away from the party leadership.
The AGP first rose to power in 1985 riding on a strong anti-immigrant public sentiment. Then aged 33, Mahanta became the youngest CM. His second term (1996-2001) was marked by “secret killings”.
It was a dark period in Assam’s history. Masked gunmen would swoop down on villages and kill the family members and relatives of rebels of the United Liberation Front of Asom or ULFA.