AGP opposes Naga Congress manifesto

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Guwahati, Feb 25: The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) today opposed the manifesto of the Nagaland unit of the Congress, which promised the integration of the Naga-inhabited areas, if elected to power.

AGP spokesman Apurba Kumar Bhattacharrya said the party hoped for a peaceful solution to the Naga problem but not at the cost of Assam's territorial integrity. Mr Bhattacharrya made it clear that the AGP would not allow handing over an inch of Assam's land to Nagaland.

''The Congress has always been indulging in double talk. Here in Assam they talk of protection and in Nagaland they talk of integration of the same land into their state,'' he said.

Meanwhile, talking to mediapersons at Shillong yesterday, AICC general secretary Margaret Alva ruled out any change in the party's manifesto for Nagaland as far as the integration of Naga-inhabited areas was concerned.

''There is no question of change in the manifesto. The 16-point agreement adopted several years ago suggests the need for an integration of all Naga-inhabited areas,'' she said.

The agreement highlights the need to have the integration of the contiguous Naga areas of the region which included Assam and vast areas of Manipur. However, this had evoked criticism both in Manipur and Assam.

The Congress leaders in both the states were also uncomfortable with the issue and they had been waiting for the elections to be over to raise it in the highest forum of the party.

Ms Alva said the integration issue would be kept in the form of an agenda to be negotiated and settled. On the Nagaland Congress's stand on the issue, she said, ''We cannot control the freedom and wisdom of the state leadership. The state leaders are expressing their own aspirations and we need to respect this.'' However, Mr Bhattacharrya vowed that the AGP would oppose it tooth and nail and despite the pressure of the Congress high command, he said, Assam's land would not be handed over to Nagaland.

UNI

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