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BJP to maintain alliance with AGP, BPF for LS polls

By PRANJAL BHUYAN
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GUWAHATI, June 28 - The BJP�s central leadership looks determined to enter into formal seat-sharing arrangement and maintain the alliance with AGP and BPF during next year's Lok Sabha polls.

Senior BJP leaders told The Assam Tribune that the saffron party is expected to leave the Kokrajhar Lok Sabha seat for BPF, while it may offer maximum two-three constituencies, including Karimganj, Dhubri and either Kaliabor or Barpeta, to AGP.

Sources added that with the senior NDA partner already having problems with its allies in various parts of India, the saffron party does not want the same situation to recur in the North East.

�Besides, we do not want to repeat the mistake which AGP under Prafulla Kumar Mahanta had made post Assam Accord by ignoring ethnic groups like the Bodos and the Karbis, which ultimately created a sense of alienation among those communities. Our national leadership wants us to ensure that all indigenous communities of Assam remain united. Our national president Amit Shah wants us to take all regional and ethnic community-based parties on board,� said a State BJP leader.

He said that while formal discussions regarding seat-sharing are yet to begin, the possibility of leaving the Kokrajhar seat to BPF and offering two-three seats to the AGP seems likely.

�The Kokrajhar constituency is a traditional stronghold of the BPF. As for the AGP, our central leadership may offer them Dhubri, Karimganj and either Kaliabor or Barpeta. Our chances of winning in Dhubri are zero while Karimganj is also a tough constituency for us. But, the same in also true for the AGP and the regional party would definitely prefer to have at least one or two seats where it can put up a good fight. That situation exists in both Kaliabor and Barpeta,� said the party leader.

Sections of the Assam unit of BJP had earlier wanted to fight the Lok Sabha polls without having a formal seat-sharing arrangement with the party's regional allies. But, BJP president Amit Shah and other senior central leaders are of a different opinion � they want to have seat-sharing to prevent division of votes.

Some State leaders of the saffron party admitted that the AGP has become more assertive in recent months, following the public outcry on issues like the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

�So, the AGP will definitely try to drive a hard bargain with us. Besides, there is also the question of demography which means a constituency like Dhubri is virtually out of our grip. At the same time, it seems unlikely that even the AGP will be able to snatch Dhubri or Karimganj from the AIUDF. So they (AGP) will definitely seek to contest from seats like Kaliabor, Mangaldai and Tezpur. But, we cannot part with constituencies where we have sitting MPs. However, Kaliabor is now with Congress and Barpeta has an AIUDF MP. So, either one of these two seats could be left for the AGP,� revealed a BJP office-bearer.

BJP�s problems with allies in different states emerged in recent times.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has already quit the NDA, while Shiv Sena has clarified that it will contest the Lok Sabha polls on its own from Maharashtra.

In Bihar, BJP�s allies � Janata Dal (United), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) � have started demanding a larger share of the pie as far as the number of Lok Sabha seats to contest from in 2019 is concerned. Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, BJP�s local ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) has also started making noises in the run-up to the parliamentary polls.

BJP leaders have admitted that the party�s spectacular performances in 2014 in states of the northern and western region are unlikely to be repeated in 2019, and hence, it is looking to make gains in Odisha, West Bengal and the North East to offset the likely losses in other parts of the country.

There are 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam. In the 2014 parliamentary polls, the BJP emerged winner is seven of the seats, Congress and the AIUDF got three each, and one constituency (Kokrajhar) was won by an Independent.

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BJP to maintain alliance with AGP, BPF for LS polls

GUWAHATI, June 28 - The BJP�s central leadership looks determined to enter into formal seat-sharing arrangement and maintain the alliance with AGP and BPF during next year's Lok Sabha polls.

Senior BJP leaders told The Assam Tribune that the saffron party is expected to leave the Kokrajhar Lok Sabha seat for BPF, while it may offer maximum two-three constituencies, including Karimganj, Dhubri and either Kaliabor or Barpeta, to AGP.

Sources added that with the senior NDA partner already having problems with its allies in various parts of India, the saffron party does not want the same situation to recur in the North East.

�Besides, we do not want to repeat the mistake which AGP under Prafulla Kumar Mahanta had made post Assam Accord by ignoring ethnic groups like the Bodos and the Karbis, which ultimately created a sense of alienation among those communities. Our national leadership wants us to ensure that all indigenous communities of Assam remain united. Our national president Amit Shah wants us to take all regional and ethnic community-based parties on board,� said a State BJP leader.

He said that while formal discussions regarding seat-sharing are yet to begin, the possibility of leaving the Kokrajhar seat to BPF and offering two-three seats to the AGP seems likely.

�The Kokrajhar constituency is a traditional stronghold of the BPF. As for the AGP, our central leadership may offer them Dhubri, Karimganj and either Kaliabor or Barpeta. Our chances of winning in Dhubri are zero while Karimganj is also a tough constituency for us. But, the same in also true for the AGP and the regional party would definitely prefer to have at least one or two seats where it can put up a good fight. That situation exists in both Kaliabor and Barpeta,� said the party leader.

Sections of the Assam unit of BJP had earlier wanted to fight the Lok Sabha polls without having a formal seat-sharing arrangement with the party's regional allies. But, BJP president Amit Shah and other senior central leaders are of a different opinion � they want to have seat-sharing to prevent division of votes.

Some State leaders of the saffron party admitted that the AGP has become more assertive in recent months, following the public outcry on issues like the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

�So, the AGP will definitely try to drive a hard bargain with us. Besides, there is also the question of demography which means a constituency like Dhubri is virtually out of our grip. At the same time, it seems unlikely that even the AGP will be able to snatch Dhubri or Karimganj from the AIUDF. So they (AGP) will definitely seek to contest from seats like Kaliabor, Mangaldai and Tezpur. But, we cannot part with constituencies where we have sitting MPs. However, Kaliabor is now with Congress and Barpeta has an AIUDF MP. So, either one of these two seats could be left for the AGP,� revealed a BJP office-bearer.

BJP�s problems with allies in different states emerged in recent times.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has already quit the NDA, while Shiv Sena has clarified that it will contest the Lok Sabha polls on its own from Maharashtra.

In Bihar, BJP�s allies � Janata Dal (United), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) � have started demanding a larger share of the pie as far as the number of Lok Sabha seats to contest from in 2019 is concerned. Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, BJP�s local ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) has also started making noises in the run-up to the parliamentary polls.

BJP leaders have admitted that the party�s spectacular performances in 2014 in states of the northern and western region are unlikely to be repeated in 2019, and hence, it is looking to make gains in Odisha, West Bengal and the North East to offset the likely losses in other parts of the country.

There are 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam. In the 2014 parliamentary polls, the BJP emerged winner is seven of the seats, Congress and the AIUDF got three each, and one constituency (Kokrajhar) was won by an Independent.