Guwahati: Dissent against the top leadership of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is out in the open after the party, led by Atul Bora, decided to bury its differences and go for a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
The alliance was announced by senior BJP leader Ram Madhav and NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma after a late night meeting with all stakeholders from the northeast.
Two senior AGP leaders, Lachit Bardoloi and Hemen Borah, have tendered their resignations.
Bardoloi, who took to social media to express his ‘anguish’, wrote, “Thank you opportunistic AGP leaders, you have unmasked your and party’s fake regional character. You must not talk about our 855 martyrs from today onwards. Wiping out AGP from heart. Time has come for all who believes in regionalism must be united.”
Hemen Borah, who was also the party’s legal advisor and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, AGP founding leader and two-time chief minister, too have openly hit out at the party over the alliance.
Speaking to News18, Mahanta said, “I have been opposing the BJP and pledging my support for implementation of the Assam Accord. I have been protesting against the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. Once this bill is passed, Assam will be full of Bangladeshis. BJP president Amit Shah has announced in a public rally of the party’s commitment to give shelter to non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in India. After that, there’s no question of alliance or reconciliation with the BJP.”
He rubbished the claims of a section of the local media that Mahanta was convinced about the alliance after being promised the Mizoram governor’s post.
“The allegation by some that I am against AGP-BJP reconciliation because I could not be the governor is baseless. It’s also a lie that I ever showed interest to contest from the Nagaon Lok Sabha seat,” he said.
Stating that he was kept in the dark regarding all the discussions which took place between the AGP and BJP, Mahanta said, “Even in 2016, senior party colleagues had not shared with me the decision of forging an alliance with the BJP or on seat-sharing. They never considered me to be important enough to be kept in the loop.”
However, party president Atul Bora said the decision was the need of the hour.
Earlier this year, Bora and two of his party colleagues Keshab Mahanta and Phanibhushan Choudhury had tendered their resignations from the state cabinet over the citizenship bill.
The bill seeks to grant nationality to non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India.
Bangladeshi immigrants have always been a burning issue for the state and the entire region. Local groups have been up against the bill and there has been a wave of protest after it was introduced in Parliament.
Following a meeting with chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, AGP leader Manoj Saikia told News18, “We are not compromising on the citizenship issue. However, considering the current political equation this was need of the hour. Prafulla Mahanta is our founder leader and we can never ignore him. His ideologies will always inspire us.’
The Congress, which has promised to scrap the bill if voted to power, slammed the AGP for renewing ties with the saffron party.
The grand old party had openly invited the AGP to fight the election together and teach the Narendra Modi government a lesson.
The local leadership, in a statement, said, “The AGP has put the last nail in its coffin. Party leaders will get an answer for this betrayal to Assamese people.”
Once a local powerhouse, the AGP now seems to be dependent on alliances in its fight for survival and the 2019 elections could decide the AGP’s future.