Samajwadi Party shatters AGP’s grand alliance plan

July 3rd, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party
By Syed Zarir Hussain
Guwahati, July 3 (IANS) The grand alliance plan of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Assam’s main opposition party and the flag-bearer of regionalism, is on the verge of collapse with the Samajwadi Party (SP) inching closer to the Congress. The SP has been a key constituent of the regional alliance called the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA). With its other units, including the AGP and the Telegu Desam, the UNPA was engaged in projecting itself as the Third Front in national politics until Amar Singh began parleys with the Congress top-brass on the issue of supporting the central government after the probable withdrawal of Left support over the India-US nuclear deal.

“We are keeping a close watch on the Samajwadi Party’s role and may have to re-position ourselves depending on the turn of events. After all, we cannot have any alliance with any party which is supporting or is close to our main rival, the Congress,” AGP president Brindabon Goswami said.

The AGP is already in touch with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with which it had an electoral pact in the past. Senior AGP leaders have met BJP president Rajnath Singh in New Delhi in recent weeks, triggering speculations in the state about a possible AGP-BJP tie-up ahead of the polls to parliament.

“There is no harm in meeting BJP leaders or leaders of other like-minded parties. Our aim, after all, is to oust the Congress from power in Assam,” senior AGP leader Chandra Mohan Patowary said.

State BJP leaders have said they are in touch with leaders of the AGP, but indicated no alliance was being reached immediately.

“We are in touch, but we need to agree and work out the modalities,” Assam BJP president Ramen Deka said.

The AGP’s move to come closer to the BJP at this juncture may have been expedited by the SP’s U-turn over the issue of support to the Congress.

Only recently, SP leader Amar Singh was in Assam, lambasting the state Congress leadership, backing the AGP and addressing a joint news conference with Brindabon Goswami and other AGP leaders.

Significantly, the AGP’s parleys with the BJP have begun even as the party was meeting with other regional parties in the state, including the breakaway AGP (Progressive) of former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

Although unification of the regional parties in Assam was considered a necessity to put up a tough fight against the ruling Congress, having a dream electoral run since 2001, it has turned out to be a difficult job to accomplish.

AGP (Progressive) leader Prafulla Mahanta is a known rival of AGP president Goswami and this has turned out to be among the problems preventing the unification.

In the absence of a solid opposition combine to take on the Congress, the AGP seems to be moving closer to the BJP and could possibly reach an electoral pact in the days ahead.

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