Nitin Gogoi in Guwahati
The ruling Asom Gana Parishad is likely to get a berth in the Union Council of Ministers, with the regional party formally joining the National Democratic Alliance on Monday. A hint to this affect was given by Union Home Minister L K Advani at a joint
press conference addressed by top BJP leaders and AGP chief Prafulla Kumar
Mahanta in New Delhi on Monday.
The BJP's state unit may not be too happy about the alliance but Advani appeared pleased with the development, saying that though the AGP has joined the NDA alliance only now, it has been cooperating with the Centre for three years.
The AGP has only two Rajya Sabha MPs and none in the Lok Sabha. The chief minister's wife, Jayashree Goswami Mahanta, is a Rajya Sabha MP.
Meanwhile, the seat-sharing formula evolved by the two parties has left many BJP office bearers in Assam fuming. From the initial demand of sharing 110 of the 126 assembly seats
equally, the BJP is now left with just 34 seats. In 10 more seats there would be "friendly" contests between AGP and BJP candidates.
The BJP's Assam unit chief Rajen Gohain has apparently
told the central leadership that the party would suffer a big humiliation
since the division of seats has been "unfair".
In Guwahati, for the third day since Saturday, BJP workers held demonstrations in the premises of the party's state headquarters. Unlike the previous two days, however,
the protest was peaceful.
With almost all senior leaders in New Delhi, the middle-rung party leaders were hard-pressed to explain why the party had to tie-up with the AGP, which was a political foe till just a few weeks ago. The protestors, who had arrived in a bus from nearby
Rangiya on Monday afternoon, were clearly unhappy with the prospect of
having to work hand-in-hand with those who had been their political
"Why were the workers not consulted before the decision was made?" asked one of the workers. "How are we to explain this somersault to the people?" asked another. The workers, numbering close to a hundred, held an impromptu meeting inside the party
office severely criticising the alliance. Though quite vocal about their
feelings, they were far more restrained than some of their fellow workers
who had, earlier, resorted to violence. "We have heard you and will pass on the
message to the senior leaders," one of the party functionaries said.
There was heavy police bandobast around the BJP office.
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