Leadership issues, lack of strategy hit AGP in rural polls: Experts

GUWAHATI: At a time when regional parties such as Mizo National Front in Mizoram and Telangana Rashtra Samithi in Telangana have the people’s mandate, Asom Gana Parishad, which was once in power for two terms, and is currently an ally in the state government, has failed to earn the “confidence” of the electorate, if the outcome in the panchayat polls is any indicator.

The regional party, which was once in power for two terms, and is currently an ally in the state government, had fought the rural polls alone, only to trail in the third place after BJP and Congress.

While detractors are hinting at a “missing link” between the central leadership of the party and party representatives in the grassroots, who voters relate to and hinge on for basic needs, analysts are citing leadership issues for the “average show”.

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“AGP had a golden opportunity this time to make a serious mark in Assam politics. But they failed again to make the big push. For me, the issue is leadership. People of Assam have lost hope on AGP’s leadership, specially the older leadership which is controlling the party since 1985,” believes Shyamkanu Mahanta, a political analyst.

Apparently, the regional party’s choice of remaining in the BJP-led government, at a time when Centre had proposed a legislation which state organisations have opposed and termed it “anti-Constitution” and “anti-indigenous people,” infused a sense of delusion and confusion among voters.

“As a party, AGP is still popular, but it did not have a strategy or a planned campaign which has resulted in its poor showing. Besides, many in Assam are offended with the party as they have remained in the coalition in spite of BJP’s support towards the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016,” Mahanta said.

“This result should force many veterans to make way for others. A new leadership, with youths in the mix, is the need of the hour for AGP if it intends to be a serious contender in 2019. Many still look at AGP as a party which will work to protect their language and identity,” he added.

Experts also speculate that regardless of the outcome, the alliance between BJP and AGP might remain keeping in mind political gains, particularly in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“AGP has created a sense of delusion among the people by remaining in the government and only threatening to break ties if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed. But, if AGP looks at the Lok Sabha elections and intends to win two to three seats, it knows that the alliance with BJP will help them,” said another analyst.


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