Regional unity only way to oust Congress: Mahanta

April 14th, 2008 - 11:55 am ICT by admin  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Guwahati, April 14 (IANS) Setting aside differences among regional parties and maintaing unity is the only way to oust the Congress party in Assam, feels former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. “The need of the hour is regional unity and unless that happens the Congress would continue to rule the state without any fight,” Mahanta told IANS.

Mahanta, two-time chief minister, was unceremoniously expelled from Assam’s main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in 2005 for anti-party activities.

Mahanta, who founded the AGP in 1985, was earlier replaced as party president in 2001 on alleged bigamy charges, forcing Mahanta to form the AGP-Progressive (AGP-P).

After Mahanta severed links, the AGP lost two successive assembly elections in 2001 and 2006. With the AGP in shambles, there are desperate attempts for revival with possibilities being explored for reuniting the party that witnessed a vertical split three years ago.

The AGP last week constituted an 11-member committee to submit a detailed report within two months on the best way to get disgruntled party leaders back to its fold.

The decision to form the committee was taken following mounting pressure from grassroots level party workers seeking unification of the party.

“The AGP being the main regional party should take the lead in uniting the opposition. The AGP leadership should shed any ego and differences and work towards unification for the greater interest of the state,” Mahanta said.

“The AGP is prepared to accept any political challenge alone although we must respect the wishes of the grassroots workers who want the regional forces to be strengthened,” AGP president Brindaban Goswami said, clearly hinting about his reluctance to take back Mahanta into the party.

Several top AGP leaders have openly voiced their anger in party forums and admitted to being totally disillusioned with the handling of party affairs by its present leader.

Once the darling of Assam for spearheading the anti-foreigners uprising in the 1980s as a student leader, Mahanta, is a loner - completely isolated from politics after being mired in a blazing row over killings of relatives of separatists.

The ’secret killings’, as they came to be known, became a major issue during the assembly polls in 2001 in which the Congress party led by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi returned to power, defeating the AGP. The former chief minister was indicted by the Justice K.N. Saikia Commission report that was tabled in the Assam Assembly.

The Commission, investigating the extra-judicial killings of nearly 45 family members and relatives of militants belonging to the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), said such incidents could not have happened without the state home minister’s knowledge.

Mahanta was then chief minister and was also holding the home portfolio.

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