CAB: Assam Congress Uses the 'Hot Cake', BJP Ignores and AGP May divide!
| Monalisa Gogoi - 05 Apr 2019

CAB: Mahanta Supporters Avoiding Poll Campaigning in Assam!

By Monalisa Gogoi

Bureau Chief, NE, Indian Observer Post

Guwahati, April 05, 2019: In Assam, where the first phase of polling is scheduled on April 11; the issue of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) is gaining ground and affecting the AGP-BJP alliance severely.

Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) while reviving their electoral tie-up in Assam, had agreed to set aside the issue of Citizenship Amendment Bill, for the fear of losing the spark of lost love reunion, however this decision of alliance was not accepted to the senior AGP leader and two times former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

Now the impact on the ground is, neither Prafulla Mahanta is doing any campaigning for the candidates of the BJP-led alliance that has AGP as the key constituent nor other senior leaders are going for electioneering in favour of any alliance candidate.

According to reports, a large section of senior AGP leaders are abstaining from electioneering either for the party candidate at Kaliabor Lok Sabha Constituency or for candidates of its ally BJP in other first-phase parliamentary constituencies of Tezpur, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur.

Only two prominent AGP leaders who have hit the campaign trail so far are party president Atul Bora and working president Keshab Mahanta. Both Bora and Mahanta are ministers in Sarbananda Sonowal government in Assam while Keshab Mahanta’s brother Moni Madhab Mahanta is the AGP candidate in Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency. He is, in fact, the common candidate of the BJP-led ruling alliance and pitted against   formidable Congress candidate and two-time MP, Gaurav Gogoi.

One can see it clearly that, the regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is being exposed in a very poor light as a sharply divided house on the issue of Citizenship amendment Bill.

Though the AGP was compelled by the intensive mass agitation against the Bill to snap ties with the BJP after the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, leadership of the party renewed the ties before Lok Sabha election without consulting party workers.

This has now resulted in massive resentment among AGP workers across the states that are not willing to campaign for candidates of the ally BJP. Former CM Prafulla Mahanta had opposed the AGP leadership’s decision to renew ties with the ruling BJP to fight the Lok Sabha polls jointly even though the regional party had severed ties with the BJP in January this year protesting the BJP’s stand in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The opposition Congress has seized the opportunity and made CAB the main poll plank, hoping that it would create new electorates for the party in the state and correct its poll arithmetic.

A senior AGP leader and a former minister of Assam, Jatin Mali on Thursday joined the Congress in protest against the unilateral decision of the AGP leadership to renew ties with the BJP.
The Assam state Congress  President Ripun Bora released the party manifesto titled 'Amaar
lakhya amaar pan' (Our aim our pledge) in Guwahati, yesterday. 

The manifesto promised to provide special status to Assam again if the Congress comes to the power. The Congress said it will also ensure an error-free National Register of Citizens (NRC) if voted to power. 
The party also promises to scrap the Citizenship Amendment bill, Schedule Tribe status to 6 communities, the solution to flood and erosion problems, among other issues.

The part has said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will not be allowed to be implemented and this is the main election issue of Congress. Another important propaganda of the party is to reinforce the special status to the state.

The Congress insiders believe that the BJP’s announcement to bring the bill again has triggered fresh apprehension among all CAB opponents and, therefore, harping on it as the key poll issue might lead to convergence of a significant number of electorates centring it.

Addressing the media, the party President, Ripun Bora said, “Common people are tired of false promises of BJP. So, they want change from their core of heart. So, we are very confident and hopeful about our victory.”

Former AGP minister Jatin Mali, who joined Congress party yesterday, has also criticized his former party president Atul Bora accusing him for using the party for personal benefit and personal interest.

Meanwhile, a group of leaders of regional party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has declared that they would take a historical decision on 7th of April regarding their party. Addressing the media a senior leader Aswin Mahanta said, “The party was formed with the blood of 855 martyrs. Those heroes cannot be ignored at any cost. A few leaders are using our party as their private company. We will not allow doing so.”

He further said, “It is related to the emotions of the people of Assam. We will strengthen this party and will continue our stand against CAB.”

In this parliamentary election, the AGP is contesting from Kaliabor, Dhubri and Barpeta Lok Sabha constituencies while BPF is contesting from Kokrajhar according to the seat-sharing arrangement among the BJP, AGP and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).

The BJP is fielding candidates in the rest ten Lok Sabha constituencies in the state –Tezpur, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Guwahati, Mangaldai, Silchar, Karimganj and Diphu (Autonomous District).

The AGP candidates in Muslims minority dominated Barpeta and Dhubri constituencies are facing tough fight with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by Badaruddin Ajmal. This is another reason for disgruntlement in a section of AGP workers who have viewed the seat sharing with the BJP a loopsided arrangement favouring the saffron party and at the cost of future of the regional party.

In another development, 27 regional committees of the AGP in Roha assembly constituency have announced that they will not support their alliance candidate Rupak Sarma in Nagaon parliamentary constituency.

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