Gogoi gloats over AGP-BJP tie-up

Former Assam Chief Minister says Cong. will reap anti-citizenship Bill sentiment

Veteran Congress leader and former Chief Minister (CM) Tarun Gogoi said on Thursday that the party will benefit from the anti-citizenship Bill sentiment in Assam after the Asom Gana Parishad’s “betrayal”. The Congress is hoping to win at least 10 of the 14 seats in the State in the Lok Sabha polls, he said.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Gogoi said the BJP and the AGP had formed an “opportunistic alliance” as none of them had the capability to win alone. He claimed that the alliance between the two will not help either. People know that the BJP is “anti-Assam” and the AGP is now exposed as a “shameless and double-standard party”, he added.

The AGP had severed ties with the BJP-led government in Assam in January to protest against the Centre’s decision to ensure the controversial Bill’s passage in the Lok Sabha.

It returned to the NDA fold after a meeting between AGP president Atul Bora and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav on Tuesday.

“The AGP rejoining the BJP shows a kind of opportunistic politics which is very rare in Assamese history. It proves that the three AGP Ministers cannot live without power. They have got the taste of power and money,” Mr. Gogoi said.

Now people believe that only the Congress can save jati-mati-bheti (community, land, homeland), he said.

Securing jati, mati and bheti was the BJP’s slogan during the 2016 Assam Assembly election, after which the Congress government led by Mr. Gogoi was ousted from power.

As the AGP is now with the BJP, the Congress will get all the support due to its strong stand against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the former CM said.

The Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India, was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, but could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha. It is set to lapse on June 3 when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends.

The contentious Bill had triggered huge protests in the Northeastern region as indigenous people feared that if enacted, the law would endanger their identity and livelihood.

Asked how many seats the Congress hopes to win in Assam, the three-time CM exuded confidence that his party “will get not less than 10 seats in Assam”.

At present, the Congress has three Lok Sabha MPs from Assam.

Mr. Gogoi also hit out at Meghalaya’s ruling National People’s Party, dubbing it as the BJP’s ‘B’ team.

“The NPP said it will put up candidates in all seats in the Northeast. What is he [NPP chief Conrad Sangma] trying to do? This will only help the BJP by cutting some Opposition votes,” he also said.

The Congress leader rejected the idea of an alliance with the All India United Democratic Front led by Badruddin Ajmal.

Assam will go to polls in three phases on April 11, 18 and 23.

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