Mahanta sought Congress funding to defeat AGP: Gogoi

April 24th, 2008 - 6:28 pm ICT by admin  

Guwahati, April 24 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Thursday accused former chief of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Prafulla Kumar Mahanta of seeking money from the Congress party high command in New Delhi ahead of state assembly elections in 2006. “Mahanta met Digvijay Singh, who was then the AICC (All India Congress Committee)-in-charge for Assam, and sought money to defeat the AGP in the assembly elections,” the chief minister told journalists here.

Mahanta is now president of the AGP-Progressive (AGP-P), a party he formed after being unceremoniously expelled from the AGP for ‘anti-party’ activities. Mahanta, a two-time chief minister and one of the founders of the AGP, was earlier in 2001 removed as party president on alleged bigamy charge.

Mahanta was the only legislator to have won the 2006 assembly elections from the AGP-P with analysts suggesting that the Congress won the polls for the second straight term because the regional party was fractured into two splinter groups fighting against each othr in the polls.

“I don’t want to elaborate on the issue, but yes, Mahanta did approach the Congress before the assembly polls,” the chief minister said.

Mahanta was not immediately available for comments although he is expected to formally clarify his stand later Thursday.

Gogoi’s allegation has come at a time when the AGP is making desperate attempts to unify the party and take Mahanta back into its fold. There is pressure on the AGP leadership for unification, as the party has been routed in the last two assembly elections and more recently in the panchayat (village council) elections in December.

While a section of the AGP top leadershipfavours taking Mahanta back into the party, some influential members, including party president Brindaban Goswami, bitterly oppose the move.

A crucial meeting of the AGP was scheduled late Thursday to concretize plans for unification, a move Mahanta welcomed. The chief minister’s allegations may now cause a major stumbling block to the AGP’s unity move.

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