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Assam Assembly elections | I stand firmly with anti-CAA forces: Mahanta

Former CM is among four AGP MLAs denied ticket.

Former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said he has not wavered from his stand against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

He is among four MLAs of the regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) who have been denied ticket for the three-phase Assam election starting March 27.

“I stand firmly with the anti-CAA forces,” Mr. Mahanta said after arriving in Guwahati on March 6 from New Delhi, where he had undergone treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

The two-time Chief Minister is the founder-president of the AGP, a minor ally of the BJP in the State. The party got 26 seats following the seat-sharing agreement with the BJP and other allies in New Delhi on March 5.

“Which party denied ticket?” he retorted, when journalists asked why he was left out.

This has fuelled speculation that he could contest the polls on AGP-Pragatisheel (AGP-P) ticket.

Mr. Mahanta had formed the AGP-P in 2005 after his expulsion from the AGP. The party merged with the AGP in 2008 but was revived on a low key during the anti-CAA protests three years ago.

AGP-P general secretary Pranab Goswami on March 6 said the party had been re-energised ahead of the Assembly poll and they were waiting for Mr. Mahanta to lead them towards forming an “anti-CAA government”.

Mr. Mahanta’s wife and former Rajya Sabha member Jayshree Goswami Mahanta slammed the AGP for letting saffron overpower its regional colour. “A regional party has bent its knee in New Delhi for the first time in Assam’s history,” she said.

BJP gains

The Assembly seats from where the four AGP legislators have been dropped have gone to the BJP.

The BJP has fielded Jitu Goswami in Barhampur, Mr. Mahanta’s constituency for almost three decades.

The other three AGP lawmakers dropped are Utpal Dutta (Lakhimpur), Naren Sonowal (Naharkatia) and Satyabrata Kalita (Kamalpur).

These three seats have gone to BJP’s new faces – Manab Deka, Taranga Gogoi and Diganta Kalita respectively.

In exchange, the AGP got two seats from where the BJP had won in 2016. These are Raha in central Assam and Chabua in eastern Assam.

Of the 126 seats in the Assam Assembly, 47 will go to the polls on March 27 in the first phase. Voting on 39 will be held on April 1 in the second phase and 40 in the third and final phase on April 6.

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