Ousted AGP president spews venom against party

September 22nd, 2008 - 6:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Sep 22 (IANS) Chinks are beginning to appear in Assam’s main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) with ousted party president Brindaban Goswami accusing leaders of the regional party of removing him unconstitutionally. “The entire episode of the central committee being dissolved and then electing a new president dramatically was nothing but a conspiracy and unconstitutional,” Goswami said Monday, a day after leader of the opposition in the Assam assembly and party general secretary Chandra Mohan Patowary was elected the new AGP president during a party meeting in Guwahati.

AGP leaders lashed out at Goswami for lack of leadership and held him responsible for failing to give direction to the party during the 2006 assembly polls and the panchayat elections in January. In both the polls, the AGP suffered a humiliating defeat.

Senior AGP leaders during Sunday’s meeting sought Goswami’s resignation from the top post. When he refused to step down, the party decided to dissolve the central committee and elected a set of new office bearers.

“Some of the AGP leaders wanted me to step down to facilitate the return of Prafulla Kumar Mahanta back to the party. But I was opposed to the idea for the simple fact that Mahanta was involved in the infamous extra judicial killings (popularly referred in Assam as the secret killings) during his tenure as chief minister between 1996 to 2001,” Goswami said.

The AGP general body finalised plans for unification of all regional parties, including a move to take back former two time chief minister Mahanta into the party.

“The unification process would be over before Oct 14 (the foundation day of the AGP in 1985) and we hope Mahanta and other leaders who broke away from the party would be re-united,” AGP’s new president Patowary told journalists Monday.

A number of former AGP leaders that had earlier severed links with the party and now members of splinter regional parties, including Mahanta, would be accepted back to the party although such leaders would not be allowed to hold any top party posts for a period of three years.

“I have absolutely no problems in rejoining the AGP as an ordinary worker as long as we are able to protect regionalism to defeat the Congress,” Mahanta said.

Mahanta is now president of the AGP-Progressive, a party he formed after he was unceremoniously expelled from the AGP for “anti-party” activities. Mahanta, founder of the AGP, was earlier replaced as party president in 2001 on an alleged bigamy charge.

He was the only legislator to have won the 2006 assembly elections from the AGP-P with analysts saying that the Congress won the polls for the second straight term in 2006 as the regional party was fractured with two splinter groups fighting the elections.

Meanwhile, the new AGP president Patowary said the party would soon forge a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to fight next year’s parliamentary elections in Assam. “After formalising the tie up with the BJP we shall go into the election mode across the state to defeat the Congress,” Patowary said.

The return of Mahanta back to the AGP is still clouded with uncertainty with the influential All Assam Students Union (AASU) asking the regional party not to accept Mahanta back into the AGP.

“We are for regional unity, but minus Mahanta as he was responsible for the secret killings,” AASU leader Samujjal Bhattacharya said.

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