New Delhi: Formally announcing its tie-up with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam, BJP on Thursday said the assembly election in the key northeastern state will be a contest between "all indigenous people" led by it on one side and Congress and the UDF on the other.
AGP, which has ruled the state on its own twice, will play the junior partner and contest 24 seats while the rest 126
will be divided among BJP and three smaller outfits, with the saffron party leading the alliance.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made the announcement at a press conference here and said the "massive infiltration" in the state with the "collusion and patronage" of the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government will be their main poll issue besides freeing the state of "corrupt and non-developmental" rule marked by "mal governance".
BJP has already entered into a tie-up with Bodoland People's Front, which will contest 16 seats, besides two other
outfits representing local tribes.
An alliance with AGP, which is now a much weaker force but retains some influence, will help BJP, which emerged the largest party in the Lok Sabha poll in 2014, in consolidating Hindu votes in a state where Muslims are more than 30 per cent and back UDF and Congress, BJP sources said. They said the AGP leaders had also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the alliance was sealed.
The BJP-led alliance will come out with a common minimum programme.
"All indigenous and our people are one side and UDF with the blessings of Congress on the other," Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP leader and convener of the state's Election Management Committee, told the media.
Badruddin Ajmal-led UDF has emerged as a strong force in the state, drawing its support mostly from Muslims.
Union Minister and Assam BJP chief Sarbananda Sonowal, who is the alliance's chief ministerial candidate, and AGP chief Atul Bora besides BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav were also present at the media conference.
The leaders said implementing the Assam accord, under which illegal immigrants are to be identified and deported, will be a priority for the alliance if it is voted to power.
Bora said the previous AGP governments had also "failed" in executing it but added that with BJP in power at the Centre, they will be able to do it this time.
"BJP has assured us they will do whatever they can to implement the accord," he said, adding there can be "friendly
fight" between the two parties on a few seats.
Sarma, who had left Congress to join BJP along with some MLAs, claimed that Congress was committed to the accord as it was signed by Rajiv Gandhi but Rahul Gandhi "shifted the goalposts". PTI