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Mahanta and co forced to shift venue of workers’ meet
Staff Reporter

AGP leaders Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Pabindra Deka, Brindaban Goswami and others taking part in the programme on CAA organised by the party’s grassroots workers in Guwahati on Tuesday. – UB Photos
 GUWAHATI, Jan 7 - Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and several of his associates were today forced to shift the venue of a meeting of AGP workers after they were prevented from entering the regional party’s head-office at Ambari here.

The incident took place after grassroots level workers of the regional party from various districts organised an ‘interaction meeting’ to discuss the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA).

Earlier, the AGP workers had planned to hold the meeting at the party headquarters here. But when they arrived at the party office this morning, they found the gates of the building locked and a huge posse of security forces deployed around it.

The AGP members, who had assembled at the site, were not able to enter the premises, forcing them to shift the meeting to the Lakshmiram Barua Sadan auditorium.

Representatives of 29 district committees of the party, along with senior leaders including Mahanta, MLAs Pabindra Deka and Brindaban Goswami, former AGP minister Gunindra Hazarika, and Girindra Kumar Barua, among others, took part in the meeting.

The hours-long meeting, presided over by Tankeswar Konwar, president of Charaideo district committee of AGP, witnessed sloganeering and speeches from party members against the CAA and also the AGP’s present leadership for their stand on the issue.

The meeting demanded that the AGP central leadership make its stand clear on the CAA within seven days.

The participants also asked the Central government to repeal the Act.

Moreover, the meeting condemned the deaths of ‘innocent’ people during protests against the CAA and demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter. It also demanded release of all those who were arrested during the anti-CAA agitation.

The participants constituted a convenor committee comprising two members from each district and representatives of frontal organisations. Party workers said the committee will work on the ground to continue with the movement against CAA and to regain public support.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, former CM Mahanta said, “Due to the mistakes of a section of senior leaders, the grassroots workers of AGP have been facing flak from the agitators in recent times. As our workers have been facing insecurity across the State, we have come here to discuss the issue. Our stand regarding the CAA is clear. We will not accept it under any circumstance as it is harmful to the people of Assam.”

Mahanta also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his comment on detention camps. He alleged that Modi made the false statements for political reasons.

Commenting on locking of the party headquarters, Mahanta said the party’s current leadership had made no contribution in setting up the office. He said the AGP office is a democratic place and should be accessible to everyone.

Former minister and AGP leader Brindaban Goswami said, “Our general body meeting had decided to oppose the CAA. But recently, a section of our leaders have taken a contradictory stand due to which we have faced criticism and protests from the agitators.”

He stated that grassroots workers of AGP had organised the meeting and invited him and other senior leaders.

“Today we heard the opinion of every member and everyone expressed their resentment over the CAA. AGP is a party of the Assamese people and we are always with the public,” Goswami said.

Meanwhile, senior AGP leader and State minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury said that today’s meeting, which was called by a section of party workers, was unwarranted.

He said that some AGP members may have certain reservations but holding such meetings is not the current way to express their opinion.

It is noteworthy that there is growing dissension within the regional party over the present leadership’s stand on the CAA. Party president Atul Bora and other senior leaders have come under criticism from within the party over AGP’s decision to vote in favour of the CAA in the Rajya Sabha.

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