NEW DELHI, March 2 - The BJP and AGP today agreed in principle to form an alliance to fight the next Assembly polls in Assam.
The crucial seat-sharing arrangement is to be worked out in the coming days and the two parties have agreed to work on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme, covering the areas of implementation of the Assam Accord, resolution of illegal migrant�s issue, solution of the flood and erosion problem and the militancy issue, among others.
With this poll pact, the BJP-led alliance now includes Bodos, Tiwa and the Rabhas.
Meanwhile, the Congress and the AIUDF have decided to go alone, keeping the option of a post-poll alliance open.
In a day of fast paced development, a seven-member AGP delegation, led by party president Atul Bora, was invited to BJP national president Amit Shah�s Akbar Road house, where BJP State unit president Sarbananda Sonowal, who was asked to rush to Delhi, was also present. Other leaders who were present included Himanta Biswa Sarma, considered the architect of the alliance, and former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. Also present were general secretary in-charge Ram Madhav and Ram Lal, among others. Mahanta, however, left the meeting midway after the deal was clinched, leaving his colleagues to wrap up the discussions.
Sonowal and Bora addressed media-persons after the end of the meeting, which lasted a little over an hour.
The BJP State president said that the two parties have decided to forge an alliance in principle to fight the election together. The seat sharing issue would be worked out within two-three days, he added.
Asked about the opposition to the alliance in his own party, Sonowal said that the alliance was formed in the larger interest of defeating the Congress. �We have to explain to our workers that their interest would not be hurt. There will be no loss to the party workers,� he stressed.
The AGP president said that his party had tried to defeat the Congress in the State on numerous occasions, but could not do so. Now here is an opportunity to defeat the Congress.
Bora further stressed that the alliance was based on principle and not on seat-sharing arrangements. The main intention is not to grab power, but to defeat the Congress and the AIUDF and in the interest of the implementation of the Assam Accord and the future of the families of martyrs.
He attacked the Congress, alleging rampant corruption and misrule in the State.
According to BJP sources, the party is likely to offer 12 to 15 seats to AGP in the caste Hindu-dominated areas and a few others in Muslim-dominated areas where the BJP has little or no presence.
As reported, the AGP has been seeking 30 to 34 seats from the BJP, and the alliance talks got stalled as the regional party opened simultaneous dialogue with the Congress.
Sources confided that Sonowal, who was in the know of the developments since the arrival of the AGP delegation in Delhi on Sunday evening, intimated the party�s central leadership about the mood of the party workers, MLAs and MPs in the State. He is said to have fielded Himanta Biswa Sarma to open the dialogue with the AGP delegation.
The pressure of the Central leadership also was responsible for the BJP�s State leadership to change its mind about aligning with the AGP. Sources said that on February 29, ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had approached Sonowal and pressed him to have an alliance with the AGP, said sources.