AGP-BJP split signals forces realignment ahead of polls (News Analysis)

September 21st, 2010 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Syed Zarir Hussain
Guwahati, Sep 21 (IANS) Assam politics is expected to witness major realignment of forces ahead of the 2011 assembly polls with the yearlong honeymoon between the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formally getting over.

The AGP late Monday snapped ties with the BJP and decided to look for smaller regional allies. It even kept its doors open for the Left parties for an electoral understanding to fight the polls scheduled early next year.

“The General Council of the AGP discussed at length about the issue relating to continuance of the tie-up with the BJP and the consensus decision was to snap all ties with the BJP and instead look for other regional partners to fight the 2011 assembly elections,” AGP general secretary Atul Bora told IANS.

The AGP suffered successive electoral reverses beginning with the 2001 assembly polls. The party also lost the 2006 assembly elections, then the local council elections and the parliamentary polls last year; this, besides the humiliating defeat in the two by-elections in 2009.

The AGP and BJP fought the parliamentary elections together under a seat sharing arrangement. The regional party fared poorly — it won just one of the 14 Lok Sabha seats, down by one compared to the 2004 general elections.

The AGP in 2001 assembly elections had a tie-up with the BJP but was routed by the Congress.

“People of Assam and the AGP grassroots workers were of the opinion that we should sever ties with the BJP and hence we accepted their views,” another AGP leader Apurba Kumar Bhattacharya said.

The BJP was quick to react and felt betrayed at the way the AGP took the decision to snap ties.

“The people of Assam wanted an alternative government this time and pinned their hopes on the AGP-BJP combine to challenge the Congress. But the AGP, despite our last minute appeal to keep the alliance going, decided against it,” Assam BJP president Ranjit Dutta told IANS.

“The people of Assam would now decide who was wrong and who was right in the next elections. We are now working towards fighting the polls with the help of smaller parties with whom we have already opened channels of communications.”

Meanwhile, the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), a minority-based party that has emerged as the third major opposition in Assam, has sent feelers to the AGP.

“There is a big possibility of our party aligning with the AGP as the two parties have similar regional aspirations. I would say the chances are very bright,” a senior AUDF leader said.

The AUDF managed to win 11 assembly seats in the 2006 state elections. The AGP has 24 legislators in the 126-member house.

“The opposition parties must take a lesson from the past elections and hence the need to unite to challenge the Congress party,” said Dhrupad Borgohain, a former MP belonging to the Communist Party of India.

Amid the political rumblings, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the Congress party was all set for a hat-trick by winning the 2011 polls.

“The AGP is down and out and there is no way the party can bounce back. Moreover, the AUDF and the BJP are parties with communal overtones, and the people of Assam are going to reject them,” a senior Congress party leader said.

“There could be a realignment of forces, but we are not worried.”

(Syed Zarir Hussain can be contacted at zarir.h@ians.in)

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