AGP, BJP form joint poll panels

Students’ union demands fulfilment of promises after Lok Sabha elections
Guwahati, March 21 : Once bitten twice shy, the AGP and the BJP today put in place a joint mechanism to bind their electoral alliance from the grassroots level to prevent a repeat of their experience in 2001 when the alliance was marred by a lack of co-ordination and infighting.
Following a meeting last night, the two parties today formed joint co-ordination committees for the Lok Sabha seats and a similar committee at the state level for election management.
The 14-member state-level committee will be jointly headed by Padma Hazarika of the AGP and Indramoni Bora of the BJP as conveners.
The AGP will be contesting in six parliamentary seats and the BJP in eight. The last time the two parties forged an alliance was in the 2001 Assembly elections.
Addressing the first joint news conference of the alliance today, AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary said: “This time we are a well-tuned unit and will be devoting our energies and resources equally in all the 14 constituencies. In 2001, the alliance did not have the desired impact as our votes were not properly transferred. But this time we have taken steps so that the BJP’s votes can be transferred to our candidates and vice versa.” Patowary said the alliance was revived on certain common core issues.
He said the two parties agreed that if the NDA came to power, priority would be given to stop unabated infiltration from across the border by sealing the Indo-Bangladesh border. The NDA government will also get back Assam’s land that is under Bangladesh’s occupation, Patowary added.
Issuance of photo identity cards to all the citizens of the state after upgrading the National Register of Citizens and declaration of flood and erosion in Assam as a national problem are the other common issues.
Patowary said peaceful resolution of the militancy problem through dialogue and according ST status to the Koch Rajbongshis, Motaks, Morans, Tea Tribes, Tai Ahoms and Chutias were the other issues on which the two parties shared a common stand.
“Based on these common issues, we have decided to go to the electorate to root out the Congress,” Patowary said, claiming that the ruling party had failed to address these issues.
He, however, said the AGP had not yet decided whether it would join the government if the NDA came to power.
As of now, the priority before the AGP is to elect as many AGP-BJP MPs from the state as possible so that the Congress could not form a government at the Centre, he said.
“Assam has witnessed development whenever a non-Congress government came to power at the Centre. It was during the NDA regime that a separate ministry for the development of the Northeast was created, besides initiating steps for several development schemes for the state,” Patowary claimed.
The AGP leader, however, expressed concern that the Election Commission has entrusted the state government-owned Amtron to operate the electronic voting machines in the state.