Former CM Prafulla Mahanta not to contest Assam polls



Former Assam chief minister and the founder-president of regional party Asom Gana Parishad, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, will not be contesting the State Assembly elections.

The decision of the veteran politician and former All Assam Students’ Union president was conveyed to the media by Mahanta’s wife and former Rajya Sabha member Jayashree Goswami Mahanta.

The development, which is an outcome of Mahanta being denied a party ticket from his stronghold Barhampur (in Nagaon district), is significant in Assam politics as Mahanta has represented the seat for seven terms from 1985, having served as chief minister for two terms from 1985 to 90 and 1996 to 2001.

Mahanta has been unwell for some time and had recently returned from Delhi after undergoing treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) there.

Expressing resentment over the “snub” by the regional party, Mahanta’s wife said that by denying a ticket to her husband, the regional party has not only deviated from own its ideology, but also insulted the sacrifices of the martyrs of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

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“As chief minister, Prafulla Mahanta had started the process of development in the state. They built the first two flyovers in Guwahati during his term. Now the incumbent government at the Centre has even started selling off Assam’s resources, be it oil and gas or the LGBI airport, to industrialists. Surely, Prafulla Mahanta cannot join hands with people who are only interested in their posts, be it in the ministry or remaining chairpersons of organisations,” Goswami said.

AGP’s “senior” ally, the BJP, selected Jitu Goswami to contest the Assembly polls from Barhampur, a development which created a furore in the Mahanta camp, triggering protests.

Mahanta, however, has been resolute against the CAA, something which could have played a part in the “snub.”

AGP released the first list of eight candidates on Sunday.

Earlier, there were speculations that Mahanta would revive the Asom Gana Parishad (Progressive), a defunct breakaway faction of AGP and contest from Barhampur after allying with the Opposition Congress-led Mahajot (Grand Alliance).

The AGP has three ministers, its president Atul Bora, working president, Keshab Mahanta and Phani Bhushan Choudhury, in the Assam Cabinet.

Earlier, the trio had, amid widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Assam and resignation demands by AGP workers and supporters, had to quit the state Cabinet.

However, nothing concrete emerged, and even after claiming to oppose CAA, the three AGP leaders have remained with their senior ally in the government as ministers.

(Edited by Andre Kongri)