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AGP skips Third Front meet

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 � The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on Tuesday played a game of hide and seek with Third Front leaders, as the regional party skipped a crucial meeting of the Front held here this afternoon.

Barring AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, some of the top leaders of the regional party, including working president Atul Bora, Rajya Sabha MP Biren Baishya and two general secretaries were holed up in the national capital, but chose to ignore the meeting of the 11-party Third Front that was held at the Tripura Bhavan here.

Nonetheless, the joint declaration issued at the end of the meeting included the name of AGP, surprising many.

When asked about the absence of representatives from the Asom Gana Parishad and Biju Janata Dal, CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat said, �AGP leader Prafulla Mahanta couldn�t come today as his mother is critically ill; but he has conveyed that he is with us. The 11 parties will work together for the Lok Sabha polls.�

However, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, when asked about AGP leaders, appeared clueless about the presence of senior leaders of the regional party in Delhi.

As reported, the AGP is trying to have a pre-poll tie-up with the BJP and is believed to be holding preliminary discussions with the saffron party. Nagaland Chief Minister N Rio, who is a partner of the NDA, is stated to be working as a mediator, sources said.

Meanwhile, the 11 political parties today reaffirmed their resolve to stay united and take on the national parties in every nook and corner of the country in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

�All the 11 parties will pool in their resources at the national level. We are concentrating on fighting the elections and emerge successful,� CPI general secretary Prakash Karat said at a press conference.

Those who attended the meeting included Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, among others.

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