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State Cong mulls early Assembly polls

By KALYAN BAROOAH
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NEW DELHI, Feb 24 � Anticipating a tough time for the BJP in the months ahead, the Assam Congress unit is exploring the possibility of dissolving the Assembly and going to polls. The Assembly election in Assam, along with a few other States, is due in 2016.

A senior leader of the AICC, who is privy to the ongoing deliberations, told this newspaper that a very important discussion took place in Patna, where Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee had gone to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

According to sources, the three Chief Ministers, along with AICC general secretary in-charge Dr CP Joshi, besides Assam PCC president Anjan Dutta and Janata Dal (U) leaders, met informally when the issue of preponing the Assembly elections in Assam and West Bengal was discussed.

An idea was floated that the Assembly elections in Assam and West Bengal should be held along with Bihar, which goes to the polls later this year. �The proposal is very much alive and under consideration,� said the sources.

The Congress party in Assam, which received a drubbing at the hands of the BJP in the recent civic polls, is not averse to the proposal of preponing the elections and an internal discussion within the party is on over the merits and demerits of the move, said the sources.

It has been learnt that Mamata Banerjee has also not rejected the proposal as she is as keen to defeat the BJP as the Congress party is in Assam.

The sources argued that they see bad days ahead for the BJP all over the country and in Assam in particular. Therefore, the need of the hour is to seize the initiative and attack the BJP when it is at its weakest.

Congress leaders have analysed that the BJP, particularly in Assam, is likely to face public wrath after the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh is endorsed by the Parliament. �Going by the sharp public reactions after the BJP�s Vision Document, which called the people of the North-east �immigrants,� the BJP is bound to be on the defensive on this,� the sources said.

The Congress party recently held a �betrayal day� when the Chief Minister questioned the acche din (good days) promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress is attacking the Modi Government for stopping subsidised rations to tea garden workers, suspension of registration under the schemes of the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy, 2007 and slashing the budget of the MNREGA.

Meanwhile, a senior BJP MP from Assam confirmed to this newspaper that the 119th Constitution Amendment Bill is almost certain to be brought for passage in the Rajya Sabha during the second leg of the Budget Session. The Assam BJP had requested the Prime Minister to defer the Bill until after the 2016 Assembly elections, but pressure from Bangladesh may have forced India�s hands.

The Congress party feels that the public mood may swing against the BJP owing to a number of reasons, including the rise in prices of essential commodities. If the Budget does not contain any major proposals for the North-east and Assam, it would come as a boon for the ruling Congress, observed the sources.

The sources confided that the Patna meeting was significant in more ways than one, as a broad consensus has been arrived at to go for floor coordination among the Congress, All India Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (U) and other so-called third front parties to pin down the Modi Government.

A decision has been arrived at that these parties would act in unison on the floor of the Parliament on various issues.

An example of this new arrangement was visible today in the Lok Sabha when the entire Opposition staged a walk out in protest against the introduction of the controversial Land Acquisition Bill.

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State Cong mulls early Assembly polls

NEW DELHI, Feb 24 � Anticipating a tough time for the BJP in the months ahead, the Assam Congress unit is exploring the possibility of dissolving the Assembly and going to polls. The Assembly election in Assam, along with a few other States, is due in 2016.

A senior leader of the AICC, who is privy to the ongoing deliberations, told this newspaper that a very important discussion took place in Patna, where Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee had gone to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

According to sources, the three Chief Ministers, along with AICC general secretary in-charge Dr CP Joshi, besides Assam PCC president Anjan Dutta and Janata Dal (U) leaders, met informally when the issue of preponing the Assembly elections in Assam and West Bengal was discussed.

An idea was floated that the Assembly elections in Assam and West Bengal should be held along with Bihar, which goes to the polls later this year. �The proposal is very much alive and under consideration,� said the sources.

The Congress party in Assam, which received a drubbing at the hands of the BJP in the recent civic polls, is not averse to the proposal of preponing the elections and an internal discussion within the party is on over the merits and demerits of the move, said the sources.

It has been learnt that Mamata Banerjee has also not rejected the proposal as she is as keen to defeat the BJP as the Congress party is in Assam.

The sources argued that they see bad days ahead for the BJP all over the country and in Assam in particular. Therefore, the need of the hour is to seize the initiative and attack the BJP when it is at its weakest.

Congress leaders have analysed that the BJP, particularly in Assam, is likely to face public wrath after the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh is endorsed by the Parliament. �Going by the sharp public reactions after the BJP�s Vision Document, which called the people of the North-east �immigrants,� the BJP is bound to be on the defensive on this,� the sources said.

The Congress party recently held a �betrayal day� when the Chief Minister questioned the acche din (good days) promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress is attacking the Modi Government for stopping subsidised rations to tea garden workers, suspension of registration under the schemes of the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy, 2007 and slashing the budget of the MNREGA.

Meanwhile, a senior BJP MP from Assam confirmed to this newspaper that the 119th Constitution Amendment Bill is almost certain to be brought for passage in the Rajya Sabha during the second leg of the Budget Session. The Assam BJP had requested the Prime Minister to defer the Bill until after the 2016 Assembly elections, but pressure from Bangladesh may have forced India�s hands.

The Congress party feels that the public mood may swing against the BJP owing to a number of reasons, including the rise in prices of essential commodities. If the Budget does not contain any major proposals for the North-east and Assam, it would come as a boon for the ruling Congress, observed the sources.

The sources confided that the Patna meeting was significant in more ways than one, as a broad consensus has been arrived at to go for floor coordination among the Congress, All India Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (U) and other so-called third front parties to pin down the Modi Government.

A decision has been arrived at that these parties would act in unison on the floor of the Parliament on various issues.

An example of this new arrangement was visible today in the Lok Sabha when the entire Opposition staged a walk out in protest against the introduction of the controversial Land Acquisition Bill.