Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday admitted that the pre-poll tie-up between the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would be a factor in next month's parliamentary elections.
"Yes, AGP-BJP (alliance) would be a factor in the elections, although we have totally stopped thinking of the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF) as the party would have no bearing or impact on the elections," the chief minister said.
Gogoi was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a political convention in Guwahati, marking the Congress party's formal launch of the election campaign in Assam.
"Development would be our main election mantra and this time we are hopeful of bettering our performance compared to the 2004 parliamentary elections," the chief minister said.
Launching a scathing attack on the AGP, Assam's main opposition party, Gogoi said the regional party has lost its identity by clubbing itself with the BJP.
"See the fun how the AGP surrendered before the BJP. Out of 14 parliamentary seats in Assam, the BJP is contesting in eight seats, while the AGP was allowed to field candidates in just six seats as per their seat sharing adjustment," the chief minister said with a tone laced with sarcasm.
"The BJP would swallow the AGP in the days ahead and the regional party would be further marginalised in the bargain."
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary Mabel Rebello said the final list of candidates for Assam would be announced by Wednesday.
"There could be some new faces and I can say that if not two, at least one woman candidate would be there in the list and she would win the polls," Rebello said.
More than 5,000 Congress party workers attended Sunday's political convention where leaders called for aggressive campaigning in the run up to the April 16 and April 23 elections in Assam.
"Let the message of development and stability reach the masses and as responsible Congress workers we all should mobilise all our resources and reach out to the masses from today onwards," Congress' Assam unit president Bhubaneswar Kalita said.
The Congress won nine of the 14 seats in the 2004 parliamentary elections. An independent MP later went on to support the Congress.