Assam politics is expected to witness some major realignment of forces ahead of the 2011 assembly polls with the honeymoon between the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) almost over.
"The time has come to take a strong call on the continuance of the tie-up with the BJP. Successive electoral defeats have shattered the confidence of the party workers and supporters... The thinking of the party should change ahead of the 2011 assembly elections," AGP vice president Apurba Kumar Bhattacharyya told IANS.
Meanwhile, the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), a minority-based party that has emerged as the third major opposition in Assam, has sent feelers to the AGP.
"There is a big possibility of my party aligning with the AGP as the two parties have similar regional aspirations. I would say the chances are very bright," Badruddin Ajmal, leader of the AUDF, told IANS.
The AUDF managed to win 11 assembly seats in the 2006 state elections. The AGP has 24 legislators in the 126-member house.
The AGP was quick to react to the AUDF's feelers, saying nothing was impossible in politics.
"We have heard the AUDF's comments and will discuss the issue. We are talking to parties at an informal level and anything can happen," AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary told journalists.
The AGP suffered successive electoral reverses beginning with the 2001 assembly polls. The party also lost the 2006 assembly elections, then the local council elections, the April-May parliamentary polls this year, and the humiliating defeat in the two by-elections earlier this week.
The AGP and BJP fought the April-May parliamentary elections together under a seat sharing arrangement. The regional party fared poorly - it won just one of the 14 Lok Sabha seats, down by one compared to the 2004 general elections.
"The opposition parties must take a lesson from the past elections and hence the need to unite to challenge the Congress party," said Dhrupad Borgohain, a former MP belonging to the Communist Party of India.
The AUDF has however made it clear that it would team up with the AGP provided the BJP is out of the combination.
"Minus the BJP and the Congress, we are ready for any kind of alliance," Ajmal said.
Amid the political rumblings, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the Congress party was all set for a hat-trick by winning the 2011 polls.
"The AGP is down and out and there is no way the party can bounce back. The AUDF and the BJP are parties with communal overtones, and the people of Assam are going to reject them," Gogoi told IANS.
"There could be a realignment of forces, but we are not worried."