The BJP’s list of 54 candidates for the first phase of assembly polls in Assam has allegedly revealed its ‘secret deal’ with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). This has come barely a week after the saffron party spurned the AGP’s call for a grand alliance of all opposition parties to check the Congress’ victory run.
Hundreds of BJP supporters on Saturday vandalized the headquarters of the party’s state unit in Guwahati. They were angry that the party chose “unknown elements” over “faithful deserving candidates”.
The mob comprised BJP workers and supporters from Dispur and adjoining Morigaon assembly segments. They protested the choice of “unheard of” Ranjit Rahang as the party’s candidate from Dispur instead of senior leader Charan Deka to take on the Congress’ Akon Bora, a minister.
While Deka has decided to quit the party, his supporters alleged the BJP ‘fixed’ a weak candidate to ensure a victory for the AGP’s Atul Bora. The choice of a “non-entity” named Prahlad Bhuyan for Morigaon constituency was similarly questioned.
In north-central Assam’s Sootea constituency, BJP workers panned the party’s choice of Mintu Khan, an “unknown face” to facilitate AGP legislator Padma Hazarika’s victory. “I have never seen nor heard of this Khan in the 25 years I have served the BJP,” said local party leader Rana Bhuyan. “Our leaders can’t force a candidate on us this way,” he added.
Anger brewed in eastern Assam’s Moriani constituency too where the BJP ignored a “bankable” Aloke Ghosh for “unknown outsider” Santanu Gogoi. Ghose had lost the 2006 polls by a whisker.
The AGP, on the other hand, has announced a list of 21 candidates for constituencies it is unlikely to win. More light is expected to be shed on its ‘underhand poll deal’ with BJP when it releases its list of candidates within a week.
BJP Assam unit president Ranjit Dutta negated any secret deal. “We haven’t entered into any understanding,” he said. AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary echoed him.
The AGP and BJP had an electoral alliance in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. The tie-up proved counter-productive for the AGP – it won only one seat – but helped the BJP bag four of the 14 berths to the parliament. The outcome put the AGP leadership under pressure to sever ties with the BJP.
AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary heeded the churning within the party and decided to party ways with the BJP last year. But last month, he proposed a grand alliance of all opposition parties for taking on the Congress.
The BJP rejected the grand alliance. The minority-based All India United Democratic Front and the Left parties too found the idea ridiculous.