BJP, AGP kiss and make up for Lok Sabha election in Assam

Ram Madhav, in charge of the Northeast for the BJP, made the announcement of realignment with AGP on Twitter

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Guwahati: After the end of its relationship with the BJP two months ago on the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) said on Wednesday it will contest the Lok Sabha elections as part of (North Eastern Democratic Alliance) NEDA, an alliance of different parties of the region with the party ruling at the Centre.

The coalition was finalised in the meeting that lasted until midnight attended by BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, AGP president Atul Bora and others.

On Wednesday morning, the BJP’s northeast in-charge Madhav tweeted, “Happy to inform ~ from today 3 AGP ministers who had submitted their resignations from Assam govt will resume office. Also glad to share that @BJP4Assam #AGP & Bodoland People’s Front have sealed alliance for upcoming #LokSabhaElections2019

Madhav said this announcement was made in the presence of BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma and AGP’s Atul Bora and Keshav Mahant in Guwahati.

Madhav said that the third alliance in the coalition was the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).

After the coalition, Bora told reporters that the former associates have come back with the aim to defeating the Congress.

The AGP chief did not respond to any question asked about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the party’s stand on the issue during the election.

When AGP parted ways with BJP

The AGP had withdrawn its support to the BJP government in Assam in January over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. According to this bill, the non-Muslim people of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan will be given citizenship if they have lived in India for at least six years. Opposing it, the AGP publicly criticised the BJP leadership.

The parties dominated by Hindus and Christians of the Northeast in general and those of Assam, in particular, had welcomed the National Citizenship Register that aims at identifying genuine Indians, keeping all infiltrators out. That was because the demographics of certain pockets had ensured an exodus of indigenous tribes.

However, the citizenship bill sought to retain Hindus, Jains, Sikhs etc — who had fled persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan — in the country while marking for deportation Muslim infiltrators. Many in the Northeast have problems cohabiting with outsiders, whatever be the religion of the immigrants or refugees. Assamese activists had agitated even against Bengalis of India in the 1980s. The bill, therefore, pushed the region to a short period of vehement protests during which the AGP decided to part ways with the BJP.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Assam, BJP won seven out of 14 seats, while Congress and AIUDF won three-three seats. Independent candidate was elected in one seat. No candidate of BPF and AGP was able to win.

At the same time, BJP, AGP and BPF contested together in the State Assembly election held in 2016 and defeated the Congress, which had been in power in Assam since 2001.