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Uncertainty over AGP-BJP poll pact

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, March 1 - Uncertainty hangs over the proposed alliance between AGP and the BJP, with the saffron party toughening its stand.

A seven-member delegation of the AGP led by its president Atul Bora landed in the national capital on Monday to meet the Central leadership of the BJP, amidst strong indication of the State unit opposing the pre-poll tie-up.

Today, the delegation made attempts to meet BJP national president Amit Shah and general secretary in-charge for Assam, Ram Madhav, but failed to get any appointment. A member of the delegation, Biren Baishya told this newspaper that there is a possibility of the AGP delegation meeting top BJP Central leaders late in the evening.

However, BJP sources said that in the face of the strong opposition from the State unit, the Central leadership is reluctant to give the go ahead. It has been conveyed to the AGP delegation that the alliance can happen only if the State unit agrees, said sources.

However, BJP sources also admitted that a section of the BJP Central leaders were in favour of an alliance between BJP and the AGP, but were waiting for a final word from the State leadership.

A senior Lok Sabha MP said that State unit president Sarbananda Sonowal is upset with the AGP because the regional party initiated dialogue with the Congress party even as formal negotiations were going on with the BJP.

Sources confided that Sonowal has since briefed the national president of BJP about the development and expressed his reservation of forging an alliance with the AGP.

Those against the alliance also point towards the 2014 Parliament election when BJP won seven seats without an alliance with the AGP, leading in over 60 Assembly segments.

The development has caught the AGP delegation on the wrong foot and if sources are to be believed they are now likely to request Prafulla Kumar Mahanta to rush to Delhi to help in the negotiations. Mahanta ho is considered close to several of the top BJP leaders is expected to swing the deal in favour of an alliance.

Part of the problem for the BJP is also the seat sharing arrangements. The regional party is demanding at least 34 seats, while the BJP is willing to part with only 14 to 16 seats, said sources.

Meanwhile, Baishya said that talks could not progress today because Sonowal had left for Assam this morning. He is expected to be back tomorrow after which a decision is expected.

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