The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has decided to snap its electoral alliance with the BJP. The decision followed an intense nine-hour meeting of the regional party’s general council on Monday.
The AGP’s resolve to “tread a path different from the BJP” ahead of a decision on the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid decision, is being viewed as significant in a state where Muslims are a decisive factor in 35 of 126 Assembly seats.
The AGP and BJP had began there ambivalent relationship prior to the 2001 Assembly polls. The tie-up was a disaster for the AGP – it won 20 seats – but helped the BJP bag 10 seats.
The two parties came together again before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls with similar results; the AGP won one seat (down from two in 2004) while the BJP won four out of a maximum 14 seats in Assam.
“Leaders of almost all the 52 district committees of our party felt BJP supporters ditched our candidates while AGP supporters helped them win. Most party workers at the grassroots level were against continuing with seat-sharing or friendly fight with the BJP for the 2011 Assembly elections,” senior AGP legislator Alka D. Sarma told HT.
The AGP subsequently opted for tie-ups with smaller regional parties in a bid to prevent the Congress from a third successive reign in Assam. “Alliance with a national party is often at the cost of regional aspirations, hence the decision,” said party president Chandra Mohan Patowary.
The AGP, though, has kept the option of a post-poll alliance with BJP open.
The end of the AGP-BJP honeymoon, political scientists here say, increases the possibility of the regional party’s tie-up with the minority-specific All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
“We are not averse to an electoral understanding with the AGP if it shakes the saffron brigade off,” said perfume baron and AIUDF president Maulana Badruddin Ajmal. He negated speculations of his party’s overtures to the Congress for a pre-poll pact.
The AGP has 24 MLAs in the 126-member House, the BJP six and the AIUDF eight. The AGP expelled one legislator for cross-voting to facilitate the victory of Congress candidate during the Rajya Sabha elections in May. The BJP expelled four for the same reason.
The Congress and its associates have 73 seats. The party’s tribal ally, Bodoland People’s Front, has 12.