AGP undecided on alliance with BJP for civic polls

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AGP undecided on alliance with BJP for civic polls
© Provided by The Times of India

GUWAHATI: The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is undecided on whether to go solo or tie up with the BJP for the municipal election next year. The central executive of the party met on Saturday evening to brainstorm on the right course that would yield the maximum benefit for the AGP.

According to sources, the municipal election in the state is likely to be held in February 2022. Despite being in coalition at the state-level, both the AGP and BJP decided to go it alone in the 2018 panchayat polls where the AGP failed to impress the voters. This time, however, the AGP top brass is of the opinion that the situation has changed, indicating a joint fight against the Congress, AIUDF and other regional forces.

“Today, in our state executive meeting we will mainly discuss the municipal election and chalk out plans on how to fight the election with full force. Sometimes the AGP fought elections in alliance but sometimes alone. We will go ahead as per the situation,” said senior AGP leader and state health minister, Keshab Mahanta.

Despite facing criticism from various quarters for allegedly compromising on its regional character by joining hands with the BJP, a national party, Mahanta asserted that the AGP’s role in the state politics had been correct in recent times and thus, he said, people voted them to power. Sources in the state BJP told TOI that in various districts, the BJP leadership has convened meetings with other allies, including the AGP, to decide about the alliance. It added that for municipality and town committee elections, it has been left to the district committees to decide on alliance politics.

“We are seriously working on the plan to decide on how to contest the municipal election. It’s certain that the decision of the BJP regarding alliance politics in municipal polls will be greatly influenced by the opinion of the grassroots workers,” said BJP spokesperson Rupam Goswami.

Though the AGP-BJP coalition in the municipal election may further bond the relations between the two at the state level, at the local level, it may weaken the morale of the grassroots workers, who may have to surrender their seats. Once a decisive factor in GMC elections, AGP’s base has seen a massive erosion in the city recently. Several senior leaders of the party from Guwahati, including present Guwahati MP Queen Oja, a former GMC mayor, joined the BJP later.

In Guwahati, out of the four assembly constituents, East Guwahati, West Guwahati, Dispur and Jalukbari, all three except West Guwahati have BJP MLAs now. As part of the poll deal in the 2021 assembly election, West Guwahati went to the AGP, which the regional party won with a comprehensive margin.

“Municipal elections give a good chance to strengthen the organization. When three seats in Guwahati are under the BJP, our grassroots workers are unlikely to go for a coalition. However, in some other towns of the state, where the Congress and AIUDF are formidable opponents, the AGP-BJP may have some understanding,” said a senior BJP leader.

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