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BJP faces revolt in Assam

G Vinayak in Guwahati | March 22, 2004 17:08 IST

There is a revolt brewing in the Bharatiya Janata Party in Assam over selection of candidates for the state's 14 Lok Sabha seats.

The development has come as a windfall for the Asom Gana Parishad.

"The haphazard way of selection has given rise to dissension and unknown faces have been accommodated where they have virtually no chances of winning," a state party leader said.

Although there is no question of an open revolt, incidents like the burning down of a party office in Dhubri and a demonstration in Guwahati point to the fact that all is not well, he said.

"There have been several senior faces who have been denied ticket, while novices like businessman-turned-journalist-turned-politician G L Agrawal has been fielded in a prestigious constituency, where he has little chance of winning," he said.

Dulal Chandra Baruah, who resigned from the party, in a letter to the state BJP president said he was quitting after being denied a ticket to contest the Jorhat constituency. "I had joined the BJP at the behest of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and promised a ticket in 1999, but it was refused by the then state unit president on the plea that I was a newcomer," Baruah said in his letter. He said he and his co-workers felt humiliated.

On the other hand there are rumours that Bijoya Chakraborty, the lone Union minister from the Northeast, may resign after not getting a ticket for the prestigious Guwahati constituency. Assam's cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika has replaced Chakraborty.

Meanwhile, the AGP is turning out to be the favourite destination for disgruntled Congress and BJP leaders, including a ruling party MP who was denied ticket.

The sitting Congress MP from Karimganj, Nepal Das, is a prime example. After the Congress denied him a ticket, Das quit the Congress and joined the AGP and is now expected to contest from Karimganj.

Dulal Baruah also joined the AGP, as the BJP fielded Dayananda Borgohain from Jorhat.

State Nationalist Congress Party president Bhrigu Kumar Phukan, too, is likely to make a return to the party he founded with Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

A third innings in the AGP is the most feasible option for him after the split in the Assam unit of the NCP last week. Several NCP leaders have joined the nascent Nationalist Trinamool Congress, floated by Purno A Sangma.

Sources said Phukan would wait for a day or two before rejoining the party he left in a huff because of differences with Mahanta.

It is expected that he will be rewarded with a ticket to contest the Guwahati seat.

The BJP put an end to speculation over sharing seats with the AGP by naming candidates for 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats last week.

The party decided against fielding anyone in Koliabor and Kokrajhar, leaving the two seats to the Janata Dal-United and the All-Bodo Students Union-backed candidates.

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