Putting all speculations to rest, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) finally jumped on the alliance bandwagon just a month ahead of the Assembly elections in 2016 by joining hands with their old ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, while the top brass of these parties are excited about the alliance, it has resulted in rapid discontentment among many ticket aspirants and lower rung leaders of both parties, which doesn’t augur well for them. Already, a few notable leaders have defected to the Congress while some have threatened to start their own political party.
Shankar Prasad Ray, former President of All Assam Students Union (AASU) joined BJP last September as he was promised a ticket from Bongaigaon. However, the scenario changed post alliance as the BJP vacated the seat for AGP whose candidate Phani Bhushan Choudhury has won there for consecutive terms. Rai has now defected to the Congress who has promised to field him from Bongaigaon. All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union (AKRSU) former president Biswajit Rai was planning to contest from Bijni or Bongaigaon on a BJP ticket, but joined the Congress yesterday seeking a ticket either from Bijni or Golokganj in lower Assam. Sources said Rai skipped Bongaigaon to accommodate Ray.
AJYCP former president Manoj Baruah and AASU former general secretary Tapan Gogoi’s ride in the saffron party has been smooth though as they have been named as the party candidates in Bhabanipur and Sadiya respectively. However, the biggest dent to the alliance has been caused by two time chief minister and former president of AGP, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who clearly expressed his displeasure over the alliance. He also said, ‘Personally, I am not happy with the number of seats given to AGP as the party has ruled the State twice.’ A section of disgruntled AGP workers have formed a new political platform AGP (Anchalik) in reaction to the alliance with the BJP.
Even though AGP’s importance in state politics has constantly diminished over the years, they still boast of considerable support in some pockets and BJP wants to reap those benefits through the alliance. However, in that process, they might end up miffing the Hindu Bengali community, who form a considerable chunk of BJP’s vote base.
Till recently, AGP leadership including their president Atul Bora had been very vocal against the numerous u-turns of BJP after coming to power in the Centre on issues like land swap bill, big dams and illegal immigrant issue. So, it will be interesting to see how they manage their regional pride with their more pragmatic concern while BJP will need to get together its balancing act soon if the gerua flag has to unfurl in Dispur on May 19.
Words by- Nabarun Guha