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After severing ties over Citizenship Bill, AGP mulls returning to NDA

After severing ties over Citizenship Bill, AGP mulls returning to NDA

Guwahati: Two months after severing ties with the ruling BJP over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is weighing its options to return to the NDA fold for the Lok Sabha elections.

According to sources in the AGP, the party is divided over the issue of tying up with the BJP again, fearing backlash from ground-level workers.

A senior BJP leader has also admitted that the process of forging a coalition between the former allies have gained momentum in the last couple of days, but nothing has been fixed as yet. The AGP legislature party is scheduled to hold a meeting later in the evening to take a call on the matter, a legislator of the party said on condition of anonymity. On Monday night, too, AGP MLAs held a discussion over realigning with the BJP, but the meeting remained inconclusive, he said. "We have been summoned for a meeting. It will start at 9 pm. The alliance issue will be discussed at the meet," the senior AGP member said.

"Last night's meeting remained inconclusive. We discussed at length about the pros and cons of joining the BJP. But there was no unanimity. Some of us were in favour of aligning with the BJP, but the others opposed the idea," he said.

On January 7, the AGP withdrew its support to the BJP government in Assam in protest against the Centre's decision to go ahead with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to grant nationality to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan after six years of residence in India. When contacted, AGP President Atul Bora said, "Nothing has been finalised yet."

Earlier in the day, Bora said that the party has formed a nine-member panel to finalise its election strategy.

"We have had number of sittings. Last night, too, we had a meeting. We will announce our candidates very soon... As for the alliance, we will take a decision in a day or two," he said. Bora, however, stated that his party had "sincerely fought against the Citizenship Bill" since the very beginning. A senior office bearer of the BJP also said that alliance talks with the AGP have begun at "some level". "A process is going on, but it has not taken any concrete shape as of now. The AGP had broken ties with us over the Citizenship Bill, on which our stand has been very clear.

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