Patowary new AGP president, Mahanta set to be back in party

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Guwahati, Sep 21 (UNI) In a swift political development late in the evening, the general council of the regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) unanimously elected senior leader Chandra Mohan Patowary as its new president dislodging the incumbent president Brindabon Goswami.

The AGP's General Council meeting that witnessed many a sparks fly this evening had earlier put its seal of approval on merger of its breakaway factions including the Asom Gana Parishad (Progressive) led by former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta thereby clearing the decks for Mahanta's re-entry into the party.

Since his expulsion from the AGP in 2005 on charges of anti-party activities, Mahanta has been heading the splinter group- AGP (Progressive)- which is represented in the 126-member Assam Assembly by only by himself.

The General council while electing Patowary as the new party president also dissolved the central executive body of the party and entrusted the new president to nominate a new one within the next few days. Feeling insulted Brindabon Goswami chose to leave the party meeting midway. Goswami and his group in the party who had been opposing the re-entry of Mahanta to the party all along was totally disarmed in the general council meeting that witness a general clamour among the participants for re-entry of founder party president Mahanta and a new set of leaders.

Besides the faction led by Mahanta, two other splinter group, Trinamool Gana Parishad (TGP) and Pabindra Deka-led Purbanchaliya Loka Parishad (PLP) are also going to be merged with the parent AGP making it the largest opposition bloc in the state politics that has been dominated by the ruling Congress since 2001 taking advantage of a widely divided opposition.

The AGP general council meeting today in approving the reunification with Mahanta and the faction led by him braved the stiff opposition and veiled threat from the influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) for his alleged involvement in the infamous 'secret killings' of kin of members of banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) while he was chief minister during 1996-2001.

The AGP first swept to power for the first time in 1985 under the leadership of Mahanta, riding on the high tide in the favour of the leaders of the Assam Agitation against illegal Bangladeshi migrants. The party again returned to the power in the state in 1996. However, it lost power to Congress in 2001 polls.

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