With former CM Mahanta denied a ticket, the break-away faction may join the Congress-led alliance
The exclusion of former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta from the Asom Gana Parishad’s (AGP) list of candidates has led to the revival of a faction, AGP-Pragatisheel (AGP-P), that may join the Congress-led mahajot or grand alliance in poll-bound Assam.
Mr. Mahanta has held the Barhampur Assembly constituency in central Assam since 1991. But his name did not figure among candidates of the AGP after the seat-sharing agreement with major partner BJP was sealed in New Delhi on Thursday.
The former Chief Minister, who had been undergoing treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi till Thursday, has not joined the revived AGP-P. But his loyalists hope he “will take the right decision” after returning to Assam and “give a befitting reply to the snub” by AGP-BJP.
“The BJP entered Assam holding the hands of Mahanta dangoria (honorific equivalent to ji in Assamese) because former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee requested him to. But the BJP betrayed him and clipped his wings after coming to power simply because he has been firm against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act,” AGP-P general secretary Pranab Goswami said on Friday.
He said the AGP-P, dormant for many years until the anti-CAA movement brought former AGP workers together, had on March 3 decided to contest in the forthcoming Assembly election.
Mr. Mahanta had formed the AGP-P in September 2005 barely two months after the AGP, of which he was the founder-president, had expelled him. However, the party then merged with the AGP in October 2008.
“We had written to all anti-CAA parties to be united and contest the polls together. All except the Assam Jatiya Parishad responded. We are in talks with the Congress and if things work and they give us our share of seats, we will join the mahajot or go it alone,” Mr. Goswami said.
He added that people against the CAA want the AGP-P to contest from most seats but “we want to concentrate on 15 seats as we are not so organised at the moment”.
Mr Goswami said he hoped Mr. Mahanta would contest the polls on an AGP-P ticket. “He is still with AGP unlike many of us who have quit. We would want him to take a decision for the sake of Assam and the need to form an anti-CAA government,” he said.