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Role reversal for AGP in poll pact with BJP

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, March 24 - From a political party which ruled the State on two occasions, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has been relegated to a party which is contesting only 30 seats this year � 24 in an electoral understanding with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and six on its own where both the parties will be locked in �friendly contest�.

The AGP, which was formed following the signing of the historic Assam Accord in 1985, rode on a popular wave to form the government. Though till the elections that year, the AGP was not a recognized party and the candidates were categorized as �independents� by the Election Commission, the candidates of the party managed to win 58 seats, while, several independents and others later joined the party, which formed the government.

The regional party saw a split before the 1991 polls with several party heavyweights forming the Natun Asom Gana Parishad (NAGP). That year, the AGP contested in 121 seats and managed to win only 19, while, the NAGP contested in 85 seats and won only five. The split in the regional party�s vote bank was considered to be one of the main reasons for the debacle of the regional party.

The leaders of the AGP and NAGP finally understood the mistake and reunited before the 1996 polls. That year, the AGP forged an alliance with the Left parties and a newly formed party UPPA and came back to power. That year, the AGP contested in 96 seats and managed to win 59 and formed the government with support from the CPI, CPM and UPPA.

However, just before the 2001 polls, the AGP dumped the Left and forged an alliance with the BJP. That year, the AGP played the big brother�s role and contested in 77 seats and managed to win only 20, while, contesting in 46 seats, the BJP managed to win eight. In the 2006 polls, there was no alliance between the AGP and BJP. The regional party contested in 100 seats and managed to win 27, while contesting in 125 seats, the BJP managed to win 10. The fortunes of both the AGP and BJP nosedived in 2011 polls as the regional party, which contested in 104 seats, managed to win only 10, while the BJP managed only five. That year, the AIUDF managed to improve its position considerably by winning 18 seats.

As the BJP managed to win seven of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general elections and the AGP drawing a blank, the regional party was forced to allow the BJP to play the big brother�s role for the ensuing polls in a fresh poll alliance. In the electoral understanding, the BJP left only 24 seats to the AGP and the regional party had to accept it considering the present position that the once powerful regional force has found itself in.

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