Assam

Dispur, January 18, 2019:

Amid reports of developing cracks in the ruling AGP-BJP-BPF coalition in Assam, it was witnessed that very few MLAs/Ministers attended the swearing in of the two newest members of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Assam Cabinet.

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Sources have informed that the AGP leaders might have decided to give the ceremony a miss because they wanted at least one more AGP Minister in the Sonowal-led Cabinet (currently, the regional party has 3 Ministers — Atul Bora, Keshab Mahanta, and Phani Bhusan Choudhury).

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After appointment of new Assam Ministers, Jogen Mohan and Sanjay Kishan, both from the BJP, the rumour mill began buzzing with speculation that many Ministers from both the BJP and the alliance partners (AGP and BPF) decided to give the ceremony a miss as there is discontment within the Government in regards to the portfolios being assigned.

Today, only a handful of leaders (including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, and Cabinet Ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chandra Mohan Patowary, Naba Kumar Doley, Ranjeet Dass and MPs Queen Oja and Kamakhya Prasad Tasa) were present, which has offset a bunch of questions about the current status of the BJP’s relationship with its allies in the region.

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Amid the unfolding of the contentious chapter of the amendment of the Citizenship Act by the Centre, the saffron party’s unit in Assam has been facing mounting pressure from the opposition and even non-political organizations who contend that the CAA will hamper the ethno-linguistic identity of Assam.

Meanwhile, the BJP’s regional ally AGP has resolved to move the Supreme Court in regards to the contentious legislation. Moreover, the regional party’s leader Atul Bora has come out in public opposing the CAA. Although Bora was also seen taking part in the BJP’s pro-CAA rallies, he has com under increasing pressure from the party’s workers to oppose the BJP’s move.

In such an atmosphere, the glaring absence of the BJP allies from a major ceremony like the swearing in of Ministers does not bode well for the party ahead as it points to possible in-fighting and a jostle for power.

This brings to mind the saffron’s unit’s debable in Mharashtra. Despite winning the Assembly election by a hefty margin along with allies Shiv Sena, the party’s refusal to entertain the Sena’s demands led to the allies breaking away and forming a Government with rival parties.

After the induction of the new Ministers, the Assam Cabinet has reached a strength of 18, out of which 12 Ministers are from the BJP, and the alliance partners AGP and the BPF have 3 Ministers each.

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