Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 5: Formal seat-sharing talks between the Congress and its ‘grand alliance’ partners CPI and CPI(M) began here on Friday.

State Congress president Ripun Bora and vice president Rakibul Hussain held separate meetings with senior leaders of the two Left parties at a city hotel on Friday afternoon. Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia also participated in the discussions via video conferencing.

Sources in the Left parties said that preliminary discussions regarding seat-sharing among the allies for the forthcoming Assembly polls took place during the meetings. “Seat-sharing talks between us and the Congress have started. We have decided to meet again to finalise distribution of constituencies among the constituents of the grand alliance,” a senior CPI(M) leader told The Assam Tribune.

Bora and Hussain also mooted a proposal for undertaking joint agitation programmes by the six-party opposition alliance on major issues affecting the state and leaders of both the CPI and the CPI(M) reciprocated favourably to the proposal.

The Congress leaders also asked their Left counterparts to submit suggestions for incorporation in the Common Minimum Programme of the grand alliance.

Meanwhile, leaders of the other five parties of the grand alliance held a closed-door meeting here late on Friday evening. The meeting was called by Rajya Sabha MP and Anchalik Gana Marcha president Ajit Kumar Bhuyan. Nobody from the Congress attended the meeting.

“We discussed various issues. One of the points we agreed upon was to jointly press the Congress to allocate more seats to the smaller constituents of the grand alliance for the Assembly polls,” said a CPI leader.

Ripun Bora on Friday also addressed a press conference at Rajiv Bhavan where he accused the BJP-led governments at the Centre and the state of failure to fulfill any of the promises made to the people of Assam and of betraying the trust of voters.

“Narendra Modi had declared that from May 16, 2014, all illegal Bangladeshis will have to leave bag and baggage from Assam. According to the BJP, there are around 50 lakh Bangladeshis in Assam. As per the Home Ministry’s record, only 308 illegal migrants were deported from across India in 2016, followed by only 51 in 2017 and 50 in 2018. Will the Prime Minister seek forgiveness from the people of Assam for this monumental failure of his government?” Bora asked.

He said the Modi government scrapped the Special Category State status of Assam and deprived the state of funds, and that the BJP also failed to provide ST status to six communities of Assam despite repeated promises.

“As per the Vision Document of the BJP, they had promised to follow the Assam Accord in letter and spirit. The Assam Accord was accepted by the people with March 25, 1971, as the cutoff date to distinguish between illegal migrants and citizens of Assam. But by bringing the CAA, the BJP has allowed Bangladeshis to come to India till December 31, 2014, and given them a red carpet welcome. So how are they going to fulfil the Assam Accord in letter and spirit? The high powered committee on Clause 6 of the Assam Accord submitted a report to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in February 2020. It has been almost a year now and not a single word has been uttered by the Modi government on this important report. Why is this grave neglect of PM Modi towards the people of Assam?” Bora asked.