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BJP-AGP seat-sharing talks remain deadlocked

By The Assam Tribune
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KALYAN BAROOAH

NEW DELHI, March 4: The seat sharing dialogue between BJP and AGP has remained deadlocked over seven-eight seats, with the two parties scheduled to sit for another round of talks.

The second day of negotiations saw both the parties spend hours trying to wrap up the seat sharing arrangement though they managed to narrow down their differences to a few critical Assembly seats. The AGP is likely to be given around 28-30 seats with lots of change in faces, sources said.

A senior AGP leader told this newspaper that the reports of the party giving away Barhampur seat from where former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta contests, are baseless. “So far we have not given BJP the Barhampur seat,” he clarified.

However, BJP sources said that they are not willing to give away Barhampur seat to AGP. The disagreement between the parties mainly was over the Chabua and Naharkatia seats although the AGP has been given the Samaguri and Raha seats.

Meanwhile, the prestigious Gauhati (East) seat is likely to be retained by State minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya, while Gauhati (West) seat has been given to the AGP. Former Lok Sabha MP Kirip Chaliha, who recently joined AGP, is a frontrunner for Hajo, while Jayanta Malla Baruah is likely to be BJP candidate in Nalbari.

Sources said several high-profile leaders from both the parties are likely to face the axe this time. Accordingly, AGP stalwart Brindaban Goswami is likely to be replaced by Prithviraj Rabha in Tezpur constituency.

The two parties started the day with a preliminary meeting at Assam Bhawan here which was attended by State minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP State chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass and BJP national general secretary Dilip Saikia, among others.

The AGP delegation was led by party president Atul Bora.

The scene then shifted to BJP national president JP Nadda’s Janpath residence where the two sides, including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, spent almost a day in hard bargaining. The meeting ended unfinished around 6 pm as Nadda had to join the BJP’s central election committee meeting in the evening.

An AGP leader told newsmen at the end of the talks that differences still persist over several seats that would be resolved in future talks.

According to sources, the BJP has conveyed its unwillingness to give AGP more than 30 seats. Besides, they have also sought change of seats arguing that the regional party’s chance of winning was slim in those seats.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday attended at the BJP central election committee meeting at the party headquarters here. Union ministers Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari and Nadda among others also attended the meeting.

The meeting was scheduled to finalise the party candidates for the coming Assembly polls in four states and a Union territory. Though Assam was on the agenda, the committee could not take up the matter because of the pending discussions with the AGP.

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