Turmoil in Assam’s main opposition AGP

September 21st, 2008 - 11:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Sep 21 (IANS) Brindaban Goswami was Sunday forced to quit as president of Assam’s main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the party quickly elected his successor.Leader of Opposition in the Assam assembly and party general secretary Chandra Mohan Patowary was elected as the new AGP president on a day that witnessed uproarious scenes during a meeting here of the party’s general house.

“Following mounting pressure from party workers, the central committee was dissolved and Patowary was elected party president, while another party leader Phani Bhusan Choudhury was elected as leader of the party in the assembly,” AGP spokesperson Apurba Bhattacharya told journalists late Sunday.

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

“The house approved the decision for regional unity and things would take a concrete shape soon,” the new party president Patowary said.

Mahanta is now president of the AGP-Progressive, a party that he formed after he was unceremoniously expelled from the AGP for “anti-party” activities.

Mahanta, founder of the AGP, was replaced as party president in 2001 on alleged bigamy charges.

Mahanta was the only legislator to have won the 2006 assembly elections from the AGP-P, with analysts saying 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.

The dramatic removal of Brindaban Goswami as party president has once again led to speculation that the AGP would suffer yet another vertical split.

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.

But Goswami ruled out forming a splinter group after his unceremonious exit.

“I am not going to form another party. At the same time I refute all allegations against me leveled by the party,” Goswami said in a late night statement.

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

“We are for regional unity, but minus Mahanta as he was responsible for a series of extra judicial killings (popularly referred to in Assam as the secret killings) during his tenure as chief minister between 1996 to 2001,” AASU leader Samujjal Bhattacharya said.

“We shall oppose tooth and nail any move by the AGP to take back Mahanta into the party.”

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