NEW DELHI, April 22 � Stressing that the key to next government formation in Assam lay in keeping the opposition unity intact, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta opined that despite ideological differences the grand alliance could work together on common issues.
The AGP leader, however, was quick to add that he was confident that the AGP would be able form the next government on its own. But he said in case the AGP fails to secure majority then the regional party would have to seek the help of the opposition parties.
Mahanta said the AGP hopes to work in the same spirit witnessed in the last Assembly. �With the help of the Left parties, we were able to bring together BJP, AUDF and other smaller regional parties to fight on common issues,� he said.
�We will try that again, because though every party has its own ideology and principle, it wants to fight for resolution of common issues,� he observed.
�The key again is to keep the opposition unity intact,� he emphasized.
With a prospect of a hung Assembly looming large, the AGP is more than aware of the tug of war that lay ahead. With BJP and AUDF on the extreme side of the political divide, AGP, which enjoys cosy relationship with the saffron party, may find the going tough to convince AUDF to join the grand alliance.
Likewise, both the CPI and CPI-M may not be keen on join the alliance with BJP as one its partners.
During the current tour of the capital, Mahanta said he has not met any political bigwigs. The time for that would come later. �First, wait for May 13, only after the results are out then we would be in a position to undertake such an exercise. In any case, the AGP leadership would decide on opening such a political dialogue,� he said.
When asked whether he would be the next Chief Minister if the Congress is defeated, Mahanta, taking a leaf out of Congress� book, said the elected MLAs would select the next Chief Minister. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi�s oft repeated line is that the party high command and elected CLP would decide on the next Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, clarifying AGP�s stand on talks with the outlawed ULFA, Mahanta said that they would definitely continue with the ongoing peace process. The AGP leader�s assertion is important in the backdrop of the reservation expressed by his party over the talks with Arabinda Rajkhowa�s faction, keeping Paresh Barua�s faction out of the picture.
Mahanta reiterated that the Gogoi government was lucky because several factors like the dramatic change in the political scenario in Bangladesh helped it to take the process forward. �The AGP always favours resolution of the problems of Assam particularly the militancy issue,� he said.
The peace process was actually started by the then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. The NSCN (I-M) came and joined the peace process, but ULFA, despite initially showing interest, kept away.