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‘Common statement’ to cement AGP-BJP alliance before Lok Sabha polls

GUWAHATI:  The ‘differences’ over Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) is not going to play spoilsport when the AGP and the BJP are contesting the next Lok Sabha election in Assam under the renewed alliance.

Both the parties after stitching back the briefly snapped alliance, have decided to prepare a ‘common statement’  (not common programe) to be released before the election.

Addressing a joint press conference here the  Convenor of the BJP-led North East Democratic Front (NEDA) and senior Assam BJP minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sharma said, “ The BJP and the AGP, which will be contesting the general elections together under a ‘rainbow alliance’ of different smaller regional parties, will not focus on the ‘points of difference’ during the electioneering process.”

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The Press conference  held at the Sttae BJP headquarter here was jointly addressed by the AGP president Atul Bora, BJP state president Ranjeet Dass and AGP working president Keshab Mahanta.

Dr Sarmafurther said a ‘common statement’ signed by presidents of all the parties in the alliance in the state will be released before the election by Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal, but there will be no common minimum programme.

“There will be a common statement, reaffirming faith on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urging the people to return him to power,” Dr Sharma added.

It has become apparent that the AGP though it had quit BJP-led coalition government in Assam on January 8 protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016,  has decided not to make the contentious Bill an election issue for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls in the wake of  its return to the alliance with the saffron party two days back.

The two top AGP leaders, along with a party delegation, visited the BJP state headquarter here on Friday reciprocating a visit to their party head-office here on THursday by top BJP functionaries, including BJP national leader Dr Mahendra Singh, Dass and Dr Sharma.

Dr Sharma said, “Our stand over CAB is clear. BJP is firm (in its support) and the AGP has also not diluted its stand. The BJP’s Vision Document will have it, BJP is committed to it. But there will be consensus and consultation. Both parties have decided to discuss it post-election.”

“There are points of differences and there are points of unity. We shall be focusing on the points of unity,” Dr Sharma added.

When asked if AGP will make CAB an election issue, party chief Bora evaded a direct answer and said, “Our stand on the matter has been made clear earlier.”

He further said, “There are issue-related differences. We have taken a decision to resolve these through talks. Ideological differences would be there, but a common enemy brings us together.”

Bora, who rejoined as a state Cabinet minister on Wednesday along with the two other AGP ministers, Keshab Mahanta and Phani BHusan Chowdhury, hit out at the Congress, accusing it of failing to do anything for the state though it had been in power in Dispur for most of the time post Independence.

Bora further said the names of AGP candidates will be declared from New Delhi tomorrow, where the party will have final seat sharing parleys with BJP national president Amit Shah.

BJP state president Ranjeet Dass maintained that the renewed alliance with AGP had boosted the electoral chances of the alliance candidates and strategy had been prepared to win all 14 seats in the state now.

He said the people have welcomed the alliance between the two parties and added, “Leaders of all the allies of BJP in the state, including AGP and Bodoland People’s Front, will address joint meetings across the state and also issue joint press releases. We urge our supporters to not view any candidate as belonging to any particular party, but as Narendra Modi himself. This election is to re-elect Modiji.”

Dass further said panel of candidates has been prepared and he shall be going to New Delhi today, where the final list will be announced tomorrow.

The BJP and the AGP, which had forged the alliance prior to 2016 state polls, had contested the 2014 general elections separately. The BJP had seven out of 14 seats in the state in 2014 while AGP had drawn a blank.

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