Guwahati: The Asom Gana Parishad, the regional party which came into existence after six years of anti-foreigner agitation during 1979-1985 and formed government immediately in 1985, have dumped two of its former presidents - two-time Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and 5-time MLA Brindaban Goswami.
Goswami, a sitting MLA from Tezpur was a former president of AGP. AGP has been given 26 seats as a part of the alliance with BJP and UPPL. BJP national general secretary Arun Singh said the party would be contesting 70 seats while allies Asom Gana Parishad 26 and United People's Party Liberal eight seats. The BJP is fielding eleven new faces, Singh said, adding the remaining candidates will be declared in due course.
One of the high points of the declaration was the AGP parting with the Barhampur seat for the BJP, a seat which was held by former chief minister and AGP founder Prafulla Kumar Mahanta since 1991.
Mahanta, who has been an MLA since 1985, had fallen foul of the AGP for his strong opposition to the contentious CAA. He has also not been keeping well of late.
The future course of the 1952-born Mahanta is not known but the possibility of the former two-time chief minister joining the Congress-led seven-party alliance opposed to the CAA, is not ruled out.
"Please wait till tomorrow," a close aide said. BJP's Jitu Goswami will contest from Barhampur.
The veteran politician was denied the ticket this time allegedly due to his constant stand against the CAA. "I stick to my stand against the CAA," Mahanta told reporters here in Guwahati after he was denied a ticket.
AGP on Sunday said that Barhampur, the traditional seat of Mahanta, was allotted to the saffron party this time considering his "winning possibility" from there.
The seat has now gone to the BJP which selected Jitu Goswami to contest the Assembly polls from there.
When asked if Mahanta, the founder president of the AGP, is unlikely to win Barhampur this time, Bora said that the "decision was made after a discussion".
The AGP chief also refused to say whether Mahanta was taken into confidence before handing over the seat to the BJP.
Asked if Mahanta's open opposition to the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act was a factor for his not getting the seat he is holding for three decades, Bora said, "That was not a factor". His health was one issue.
"There is no conspiracy in giving Barhampur to the BJP. We considered the winning prospect of a seat.," AGP president Atul Bora said at a press conference here.
The ruling BJP is looking to punch a hole in a Congress citadel Titabor constituency even as the Congress will try to retain the prestigious seat, held by its stalwart and former chief minister Tarun Gogoi for four consecutive terms since 2001.
Meanwhile, the Congress announced candidates for Tarun Gogoi's constituency Titabor. Congress' candidate for Titabor, is Bhaskarjyoti Barua. There was a speculation that Tarun Gogoi's son and Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi will contest from Titabor.
"Whatever happens, sympathy votes will be there. Even the BJP government has acknowledged his contribution to the people of Assam. His influence in the voters will certainly be there but a lot will depend on the candidate as well," a Congress insider from Jorhat said.
BJP's candidate Hemanta Kalita is confident that BJP's development and welfare schemes, along with Gogoi's absence, will help the BJP to win Titabor.
"It would have been different if Tarun Gogoi was alive,". a confident Kalita said, adding that Gogoi's absence will definitely help BJP.
Lurinjyoti Gogoi, the president of the Assam Jatiya Parishad — the newly floated regional party backed by the All Assam Students' Union and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, which owes its genesis to anti-CAA protests in December 2019 —will contest from twos seats - Duliajan and Naharkatia in Upper Assam.
Jailed activist Akhil Gogoi, who led the CAA protest in Assam, will contest the upcoming elections in Assam from Sivasagar as a candidate of his newly-floated Raijor Dal.
AIUDF factor and the Congress
Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF, a major constituent of the opposition "grand alliance", has announced candidates for 16 seats, of which five minority-dominated seats will have friendly contests with its alliance partner Congress in the forthcoming Assam assembly polls, as per the first list. Seven sitting MLAs have been renominated.
The party has put up 11 candidates in alliance with its partners while in five seats it has decided to go for a friendly contest, party president Badruddin Ajmal said. Dhing is the only constituency in the list that goes to the polls in the first phase.
The party chief's brother and former Barpeta MP Sirajuddin Ajmal has been given the Jamunamukh constituency, replacing the elder Ajmal's son and sitting MLA Abdur Rahim Ajmal.
But Badruddin Ajmal's name is not there in the first list. Ajmal had lost from Salmara South, to Congress's Wazed Ali Choudhury in 2016. Salmara South will go to polls in the third phase.
In the last assembly election, AIUDF had contested 74 seats and won 13 with a vote share of 13%. This time AIUDF had initially wanted to contest from 32 seats.
Assam has a 126-member Assembly. The three-phased elections in the state will be held on March 27, April 1 and April 6.