Three breakaway parties merge with AGP, Mahanta back in fold

October 14th, 2008 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Golaghat (Assam), Oct 14 (IANS) Assam’s main opposition party the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Tuesday received a shot in the arm with the merger of three breakaway regional parties and with founder president and two-time chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta coming back into its fold.AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary announced the merger of the three parties with AGP - the Asom Gana Parishad (Progressive) led by Mahanta, the Trinamool Gana Parishad and the Purbanchaliya Loka Parishad - at a public rally in Golaghat in eastern Assam.

The three parties were formed after their leaders severed ties with the AGP last decade.

“This is a historic day for the AGP as from today onwards we would be working together under one flag. This unification process is a major boost for regionalism,” Patowary said.

The unification of the three parties also coincided with the AGP’s 23rd foundation day.

“I am happy be back with the party I founded in 1985. We now have to work towards strengthening the AGP to challenge the Congress,” Mahanta said.

In 2005, Mahanta was expelled from the AGP for alleged anti-party activities.

But Mahanta’s return was mired in controversy with the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) observing Tuesday as a day of ‘betrayal’.

The AASU is opposed to the re-entry of Mahanta into the AGP, saying the former chief minister was involved in a series of extra-judicial killings (popularly referred in Assam as the secret killings).

AASU supporters Tuesday stormed the unification venue in Golaghat and shouted anti-Mahanta slogans and blackened effigies of Mahanta.

“Mahanta is a betrayer and he should not be there in the AGP. Mahanta was involved in the secret killings,” AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya said.

Patowary said the main challenge before the party was now to launch a movement to free the state from all illegal Bangladeshi migrants, besides exposing the “misrule of the Congress government”.

The AGP suffered two defeats in the 2001 and 2006 assembly elections at the hands of the Congress.

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