The pre-poll tie up between the opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam for next month's parliamentary polls has hit a major roadblock with the two parties failing to strike a formal deal.
A scheduled joint press conference on Wednesday by the AGP and the BJP in New Delhi, where an announcement of the seat sharing deal between the two parties was to be made, was postponed indefinitely at the last minute.
The official reason cited for the postponement of the announcement was due to the death of the brother of a BJP leader from Assam.
“There are no differences and the seat sharing deal is on,” AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary told IANS on phone from New Delhi.
But there seems more to it with party sources hinting about serious differences between the two parties over the prestigious Guwahati parliamentary seat.
“In principle we have decided to leave the Guwahati seat to the BJP, but we want a candidate to be put up by the party other than their national vice president Bijoya Chakraborty,” a senior AGP leader said, requesting not to be named.
“The BJP is sticking to its demand to field Bijoya as their Guwahati candidate, while we want someone else to contest from the seat,” he added.
The AGP is averse to the candidature of Chakraborty as she had on earlier occasions "belittled" some legislators of the regional party, whose assembly constituencies fall within the Guwahati Lok Sabha seat.
“Bijoya's image is not very good as she was shown on television instigating a mob during the Oct 30 serial blasts in Guwahati and provoked them to carry dead bodies of the blast in handcarts to the secretariat, an incident that is still fresh in the people's mind,” the AGP leader said.
“At a time when people were busy helping the injured, Bijoya tried playing politics by taking out a procession with the dead bodies.”
There is now pressure from AGP supporters and workers on the leadership to even snap the ties with the BJP and contest the polls on their own.
“The party (AGP) that cannot even make up its mind on seat adjustments, do you think they would be able to impact on the Congress,” Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.
The AGP-BJP that had a pre poll alliance during the 2001 assembly elections suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Congress party with leaders of both the parties accusing each other of betrayal and sabotage.