AGP leader Pabindra Deka quits party

Ahead of assembly polls in Assam early next year, former minister and three-time MLA from Patacharkuchi in Bajali district, Pabindra Deka, has quit the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), citing the party’s alleged failure to address concerns over the Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA. He submitted his resignation papers to party president Atul Bora.

The 69-year-old was one of the founder members of the AGP, which was formed in 1985, after signing of the Assam Accord that ended a six-year agitation against illegal Bangladeshis.

The AGP is a member of the ruling coalition in Assam, which is headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); the coalition also has the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF). The AGP has 14 members in the 126-member assembly; three of them are ministers.

“I am quitting AGP as it failed to represent aspirations of indigenous Assamese people and protect their rights. The party is working under dictates of BJP. The party also failed to oppose Citizenship Amendment Act, which seeks to grant citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh,” Deka said on Tuesday.

Deka had first entered the assembly in 1985, securing over 92% of the total votes cast. He became MLA again in 2001 and 2016.

There are indications that he is likely to join the Assam Jatiya Parishad, the new political party floated by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) — two of the largest student organizations in Assam.

There are speculations that four-five more sitting MLAs from AGP could quit in the coming weeks and join other parties.

On Tuesday, Roselina Tirkey, a sitting Congress MLA quit the party and joined the ruling BJP. The 39-year-old, who represents the tea-tribe community, won from Sarupathar in Golaghat district in 2016.

Speculations have been doing the rounds that few other Congress MLAs could also join the BJP ahead of the assembly polls due in March-April next year. The Congress has 22 members in the state assembly.

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