AGP may again forge ties with BJP



Guwahati: Assam's main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) may revive ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of next year's assembly elections in a bid to dethrone the Congress.

"We strongly feel the need for broad opposition unity to install a non-Congress government in Assam. As the main opposition we earnestly appeal to all the opposition parties to unite and challenge the Congress," AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary told a news agency.

"We shall decide at the right party forum if we get any proposals from national parties for an electoral understanding although at present we are simply talking with smaller regional players."

The AGP and BJP together fought parliamentary election in 2009. The AGP won just one of 14 Lok Sabha seats, down by one compared to 2004. The BJP upped its tally from two to four.

This led the AGP to snap ties with BJP in September, saying BJP supporters failed to vote for AGP in the Lok Sabha polls.

The AGP has suffered successive reverses beginning with the 2001 assembly polls. It lost the 2006 assembly elections (fighting alone), local council elections and the 2009 parliamentary election - besides the humiliating defeats in the 2009 by-elections.

In 2001, the AGP had a tie-up with the BJP but was routed by the Congress.

"We always wanted opposition unity to fight the Congress and it is the AGP who broke ties with us," BJP Assam unit president Ranjit Dutta said.

But there are contradictions within the AGP. Several senior leaders are still opposed to the idea of embracing the BJP.

"The grassroots workers are against an understanding with the BJP. That was the reason for our poor result in the 2009 parliamentary election," AGP general secretary Atul Bora said.

Even after snapping ties, the AGP brass, now in New Delhi, vested full responsibility on BJP leader Sushma Swaraj to take up at the national level issues relating to the alleged Rs 1,000 crore financial scam in Assam.

However, some senior AGP leaders are peeved with the idea of trying to take the BJP's help - now that the two parties are rivals in Assam.

"Such ideas and statements (taking BJP's help) will send a confusing signal to our supporters," a AGP leader said.

But there are hardly any options before the AGP - apart from the BJP there are hardly any parties worth stitching an alliance with.

IANS