AGP, BJP will maintain status quo on Citizenship Bill during campaigning: Himanta

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BJP-AGP-BPF combine will win 12 seats in Assam, claims Pradesh BJP president

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, March 15: The BJP and the AGP will not speak on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill while campaigning for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Assam, North East development Agency (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma said here Friday. The AGP, which had severed ties with BJP-led government on January 8 over the Citizenship Bill returned to the fold on Wednesday.

“Neither BJP nor AGP has diluted their stand on CAB. The question during the Lok Sabha election is who will be the Prime Minister of India. Both the BJP and AGP are going to fight the Lok Sabha polls on the point of unity. We want to see Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India one more time,” Sarma said addressing a press conference along with the state BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, AGP president Atul Bora and working president Keshab Mahanta at BJP office here on Friday.

“During the campaign, we will not say anything about our differences (on the Bill), but project our unity to the people. Both the parties would sit together after the polls to find out a solution through “consultation and consensus,” Sarma said.

“The sole aim of our campaign will be to make Narendra Modi prime minister again for the development of Assam and the Northeast. Our campaign will focus on the success of the tenure of Modi and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal,” Sarma said.

There will not be a separate manifesto or common minimum programme for the constituents of the ruling coalition in Assam, he added. A “common statement” approved by all the parties in the NEDA would be issued in the coming days, Sarma said.

Sarma further said the seat-sharing details between the AGP and the BJP would be formally announced on Saturday in New Delhi after a delegation of the regional party meets BJP president Amit Shah.

The BPF, the third NEDA partner in Assam, had announced state social welfare minister Pramila Rani Brahma as its only candidate for the Lok Sabha polls from the Kokrajhar seat on Wednesday.

“We have some differences and it is very common among alliance partners…. We have decided to sort them out through discussion. We have joined the alliance in the greater interests of the state and country,” AGP president and state agriculture minister Atul Bora said.

“We want to see Modi as Prime Minister of the nation for the second term,” Bora said and added that they had joined the alliance only to defeat Congress in the election.

“Modi has done lots” of development works in Assam and Northeast, while former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did nothing for the region, despite being a Parliamentarian from Assam for 10 years,” Bora said.

“We hope to win all the 14 seats and appeal to our workers to ensure that the votes are cast in the right place,” Bora also said.

“We had earlier said 9-10 seats will be won by the BJP and the BPF. But after the AGP coming back to us, our workers are enthused and now the alliance will win at least 12 seats,” Pradesh BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said.

Some like-minded parties of Mising, Rabha, Tiwa and other tribes had also extended their support to the BJP-led alliance and this would ensure a clear victory of the NEDA in Assam, he added.

In 2014, the BJP had won seven of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, the Congress and the AIUDF had three MPs each and one member was an Independent. The two BJP allies, the BPF and the AGP, had no representation in the Lower House of Parliament. Voting in Assam will take place in three phases on April 11, 18 and 23 and the counting will be conducted on May 23.

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