NEW DELHI, March 16 - The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) sought four seats from the BJP to put up their candidates in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, but after a modest bargaining the regional party was given three seats – Dhubri, Barpeta and Kaliabor – besides the offer of a Rajya Sabha seat.
A delegation of AGP leaders led by party president Atul Bora held a meeting with BJP national president Amit Shah this morning that was also joined by BJP general secretary Ram Lal and NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Bora, who was accompanied by State minister Keshab Mahanta, Ramendra Narayan Kalita and Dr Kamala Kalita, among others, later told newsmen that they had met Ram Madhav on March 12 in Guwahati and decided to fight the elections jointly.
“Today, we sought four seats from the BJP and they have confirmed three seats – Kaliabor, Barpeta and Dhubri. We appealed for one more seat and one Rajya Sabha seat... Shah has agreed to give us one Rajya Sabha seat that will fall vacant at the earliest,” he said.
The AGP had also demanded the Mangaldai seat, which is currently represented by Ramen Deka of the BJP.
“We have internally started the process of selecting candidates for the Lok Sabha elections and very shortly, we will finalise the candidates. We are confident that we will do well,” Bora added.
On the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (CAB), Bora said that Shah’s opinion on the issue was the same as that of Ram Madhav. “We have earlier mentioned that our stand on the CAB also remains the same. But in the near future, we will discuss the issue with the BJP and come to a conclusion,” he said.
“The BJP has maintained its old stand (on the CAB) and the AGP, too, has not changed its stand,” Bora clarified. “On common issues though, we are together and we will sort out those issues on which we have differences,” the AGP president said.
On the opposition from senior leader and former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta’s faction to the tie-up with the BJP, Bora tried to skirt the issue, saying that it was the media that is claiming so. “There are some people who are creating this mischief... We came to the decision to forge an alliance with the BJP on the basis of the recommendation of a nine-member committee... All the leaders of the party were consulted... and we have taken the decision democratically and not secretly,” Bora said.
“We have discussed this issue with district presidents and representatives of important bodies of the party. There may be some differences of opinion, but Mahanta had given his consent. Our colleagues are in touch with Mahanta and Brindaban Goswami,” he said, adding, “if the people are against the alliance, then it will be reflected in the poll results.”