New Delhi: With the Assam assembly elections inching closer, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) have started wrangling over seat-sharing, according to sources.
The AGP is demanding around 40 seats, which is not amenable to the BJP. A number of BJP and AGP leaders are likely to reach the national capital Wednesday and discuss the issue with the central leadership, said a senior BJP leader who didn’t wish to be named.
The BJP’s Central Election Committee (CEC), which decides on the final candidate list, will meet Thursday to finalise the lists for all five poll-bound states — Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
In 2016, the AGP had contested 24 seats while the BJP fought 84. Of these, the former had won 14 seats while the latter won 60.
At the time, the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) had also contested in an alliance with the BJP and had won 12 seats. However, BPF has now split from the ruling coalition and returned to its former ally Congress.
‘Will ensure respectable share’
According to sources, the tension over seat-sharing surfaced after the BJP demanded a few seats that the AGP had won in the 2016 assembly elections.
“AGP has asked for over 40 seats but it doesn’t mean that they will get that. At the same time, we will ensure that they are given a respectable share of seats. These things (differences) happen during talks but we will resolve it,” said the leader quoted above.
Assam is scheduled to hold assembly elections in three phases starting 27 March, with results due 2 May.
Another BJP leader from Assam told ThePrint that the party is still holding discussions and a final list will be shared with the central leadership.
“Though 40 is out of the question, the interest of the AGP will be kept in mind during seat distribution. We are fighting the elections in an alliance and the interests of all the partners will be kept in mind including AGP and the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL),” a third BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.
A meeting between Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the Assam leaders including the alliance partners will be held later Wednesday, following which a meeting will also be held with party president J.P. Nadda.
“AGP will not be given fewer seats than what it contested during 2016. But the demand for 40 does not make sense. A few rounds of meetings took place in Guwahati and a final meeting will help sort out the matter. At the same time, the party wants AGP to contest from minority-dominated seats too,” added the third leader.