GUWAHATI, March 9 � As the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not come through, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has started the exercise of selecting candidates for the Lok Sabha polls and the names of the candidates are likely to be announced by March 12. Meanwhile, senior AGP leader Jagadish Bhuyan today denied reports that he would also join the BJP.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said that the regional party would field candidates in at least 12 of the 14 constituencies of the State. He said that the AGP is likely to support a local group in the Diphu seat, while it is still not decided whether any candidate would be fielded in Kokrajhar. He said that discussions are on with the Bodoland People�s Progressive Front (BPPF) on leaving the Kokrajhar seat to that party, but the final decision is yet to be taken.
Mahanta admitted that the AGP was keen on electoral alliance with the BJP to prevent division of the anti-Congress votes. But the Central leaders of the BJP told the AGP that the alliance did not happen because of strong opposition by the State unit of the BJP and the RSS.
On the decision of former AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary to join the BJP, Mahanta said that Patowary started meeting the senior leaders of the BJP with the plea that he was trying to work out the alliance between the two parties. But in the process he was actually negotiating his future in the BJP, he added.
Meanwhile, senior AGP leader and former Minister Jagadish Bhuyan asserted that he would not quit the AGP to join the BJP as reported in a section of the media. But at the same time, he reiterated the demand for change of leadership of the party.