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Assam: Regional parties unite against Congress

K Anurag in Guwahati | October 15, 2008 10:00 IST

The anti-Congress regional political groups in Assam have merged with Asom Gana Parishad, the biggest regional party in North East India, to form a formidable force to fight Congress in the next general election.

The unified AGP will now team up with Bharatiya Janata Party in the election to prevent division of anti-Congress votes in the state. The AGP and the BJP struck a poll pact during the recent visit of the BJP leader L K Advani [Images] to Assam.

Another significant outcome of the merger of anti-Congress regional forces with the AGP is the comeback of former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta to the fold of the regional party.

Mahanta-led breakaway faction -- AGP (Progressive), Trinamool Gana Parishad (TGP) and Purbanchaliya Loka Parishad have merged with the AGP.

Mahanta's return to the AGP was, however, marred by intensive protests by the members of All Assam Students' Union all over the state. AASU protestors burnt effigies of Mahanta across the state.

AASU had earlier issued warning to the AGP leadership of sustained state-wide protests in case the party allowed Mahanta, 'a betrayer of people', to come back to the party ranks in the name of reunification of regional parties.

AASU alleges that 'Mahanta, while being chief minister during 1985-1990 and 1996-2001, failed to implement the clauses of Assam Accord that was inked after 855 martyrs had sacrificed their lives in Assam Agitation against illegal Bangladeshi migrants'.

'He had soiled his hand with extra-judicial elimination (secret killings) of innocent kin of members of the banned ULFA during his second tenure as chief minister besides reducing the regional party to his fiefdom,' the AASU added.

Addressing the AGP's convention for re-unification on Tuesday at Golaghat in Upper Assam, Mahanta sounded apologetic to the people of Assam for the failure of two erstwhile AGP governments led by him during 1985-90 and 1996-2001 to find solution to myriad burning problems dogging Assam.

"Assam is a state plagued by plethora of problems including illegal migrants from Bangladesh, insurgency, ethnic issues, flood and erosion and unemployment. The two earlier governments of the AGP couldn't solve all these problems and we are sorry for it. The unification of regional parties is aimed at serving the people of the state better," Mahanta said.

Mahanta also launched an attack on Congress for resorting to misinformation campaign against him in the wake of move for unification of anti-Congress regional forces. The Congress has been criticizing Mahanta for his 'role' behind extra-judicial killings of kin of ULFA members in Assam during 1998-2001 when he was the chief minister. 

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