GUWAHATI, March 1: NDA constituents BJP and AGP today held ‘formal’ seat-sharing talks for the forthcoming Assembly polls. Seat-sharing arrangement between the alliance partners is expected to be finalized by March 4.
Senior leaders of both parties held a three-hour-long meeting at the official residence of State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass here this morning.
Besides Dass, the meeting was attended by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP national general secretary Dilip Saikia, and State BJP organizational general secretary Phanindranath Sarma from the saffron party.
AGP was represented by its president and Agriculture Minister Atul Bora, party working president and Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta, senior leader and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury, and former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Birendra Prasad Baishya.
BJP, which is the senior partner in the ruling alliance, had last evening held seat-sharing deliberations with the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL).
“Yesterday evening we held the first round of talks with the UPPL, led by its president Pramod Boro. And today we met the AGP leadership. We held preliminary talks on seat-sharing with the AGP. The discussion took place in a very cordial atmosphere. We will have to meet again because some issues remain to be discussed. After that, we will inform our national leadership, following which our party’s central committee, along with the central committees of the AGP and the UPPL, will together take a final decision (on seat distribution),” Dass told reporters after the meeting with the AGP leaders.
He added that the State BJP’s election committee will meet in the city tomorrow evening. The election committee will study the results of the survey report carried out by the State BJP across Assam to short-list its candidates, as well as the feedback sent by party cadres from the 60 constituencies where the party has incumbent MLAs.
These reports will be sent to the BJP’s national leadership.
“Our candidates’ list is likely to be announced by March 5-7,” Dass said.
Regarding the seat-sharing formula between the BJP and the AGP, Dass said, “Today we discussed only about a few seats. More talks will be needed to sort out the details.”
Bora also termed today’s discussion as “preliminary”.
“We held talks about the entire election process. This was only the preliminary round. We will have to talk with the BJP’s central leadership. That will happen soon. At this moment I cannot disclose anything else,” he said.
Mahanta said, “Today we held preliminary talks which mostly focused on how our alliance can secure more seats in the coming elections. More deliberations are likely and then we will visit Delhi where the final decision on seat-sharing will be taken.”
He said that the central committees of the BJP and the AGP are likely to arrive at a final seat-sharing formula by March 4.
Sources, meanwhile, said that top AGP leaders are expected to depart for Delhi either tomorrow or on March 3 for holding consultation with the BJP’s national leadership.
Sources added that exchange of a few seats may take place between the two parties.
BJP wants to field its candidates from Lakhimpur, Tezpur, Naharkatia, Teok, Barhampur and Kamalpur constituencies, all having sitting AGP MLAs, sources said, adding that the saffron party has, in turn, offered Biswanath, Naoboicha, Chabua and Hajo to the regional party.
There is also speculation that three or four sitting BPF MLAs, including a minister, may soon cross over to the BJP. The BPF had yesterday formally joined the opposition ‘grand alliance’.
However, the three BPF ministers in the Sonowal ministry have yet to tender their resignations.