AGP founder president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who is opposed to the alliance of his party with the BJP, Thursday alleged that a conspiracy was on to remove him from the state so that a section of party leaders can continue to work against Assam's interests.
Rumours are being spread that he would be appointed as governor while his wife Jaishree Goswami Mahanta will be elected to the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, the former two-time chief minister claimed at a press conference here. "No party leader has discussed these issues either with me or my wife. This is a political conspiracy to remove me from the scene. This is an attempt to malign me and present me as an opportunist," he said.
Mahanta asserted that his opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was not aimed at getting the posts of the party president, chief minister or governor. "I only wanted to protect the interest of the people, to ensure the implementation of the Assam Accord and keep the regional character of the party unblemished," he said. "I cannot think of betraying the people of Assam and destroy the regional character of AGP by joining hands with communal and anti-Assam forces," Mahanta said.
The AGP had severed ties with the BJP-led government in Assam in January to protest the Centre's decision to ensure the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) 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, ahead of the Lok Sabha election. The Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India.
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. Mahanta said an alliance with the BJP is not acceptable as the party has vowed to go ahead with the Bill if returned to power after the coming Lok Sabha election.
He claimed that the AGP's executive committee had earlier passed a resolution opposing alliance with the BJP and had constituted a 10-member committee to explore possibilities of alliances with other parties. "I was also a member of the Committee but barring one, I was not invited to any meeting. The decision to restore the alliance with BJP was undemocratic and was taken by a handful of leaders," the AGP leader said. He claimed there was widespread resentment within the party following the leadership's decision to ally with the BJP and leaders of several district and panchayat committees of the AGP have threatened to resign.
Mahanta demanded that an emergency meeting of the party be called and the decision to ally with BJP be withdrawn to strengthen the AGP. "As the founding president, I appeal to all who had left the party due to differences to forget the past and return in this hour of crisis to protect the interest of the Assamese people," he said. The AGP cannot function according to the wishes of a handful of leaders but the "party must be kept alive in the interest of Assam and Assamese people, Mahanta added.