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Assam elections: Amid protests, BJP announces seat-sharing with AGP

Unfazed by protests by local party workers in Assam over alliance with the Asom Gana Praishad (AGP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday moved ahead and announced the seat-sharing formula for the upcoming state Assembly elections.

Workers of the BJP’s Assam unit staged protests in Guwahati soon after Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced the decision in New Delhi. He was accompanied by AGP president Atul Bora, BJP Assam unit chief Sarbananda Sonowal and senior state party Himanta Biswa Sarma.

AGP, which has ruled the state on its own twice, will play the junior partner and contest 24 seats; while the rest 102 will be divided among the BJP and three smaller outfits – Bodo People’s Front (BPF) and two other parties representing tribal groups. The BJP has already made it clear that BPF will contest 16 seats. 

Prasad said the “massive infiltration” in the state with the “collusion and patronage” of the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government will be their main poll issue. During their campaigns, the BJP leaders will vigrously talk about freeing the state of “corrupt and non-developmental” rule marked by Congress’ “mal-governance”.

An alliance with the AGP, which is now a much weaker force, but retains some influence in the state, will help the BJP – which emerged as the largest party in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. 

According to sources, the BJP is likely to consolidate Hindu votes in the state, where Muslims constitute 30 per cent  of the population. They said AGP leaders had met PM Narendra Modi before the alliance was sealed. The BJP-led alliance will come out with a common minimum programme soon.
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