A BJP MLA in Assam has announced he would be relaunching his regional political party and ahead of the panchayat elections in the State expected to be held by May. He has wants his new-look party to tie up with other regional parties despite the BJP's decision to fight the rural polls alone.
The BJP sees nothing wrong in legislator Ramakanta Deuri’s move, insisting it has the party’s sanction. But local BJP leaders in Morigaon are learnt to have complained against Mr. Deuri when he made the announcement earlier this week.
Mr. Deuri was the chief of Tiwa Jatiya Oikya Mancha but contested and won the 2016 Assembly polls from Morigaon seat on a BJP ticket.
“We did decide not to contest the forthcoming panchayat polls with our alliance partners (specifically Asom Gana Parishad), but we have allowed local leaders to go for strategic tie-ups in areas where the Congress might sneak through,” Ranjeet Kumar Dass, State BJP president, told The Hindu .
The Morigaon MLA, he said, had discussed the move with him and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. “Mr. Deuri did not abandon his area-specific party when he joined. What he now plans to do is drop ‘Tiwa’ from the name of his original party so that it caters to other communities such as Muslims, Bengalis and Nepalis,” Mr. Dass said.
Tiwa is a tribe whose members are scattered mostly across Morigaon and adjoining Karbi Anglong districts.
The State BJP chief also said other area or tribe-specific parties with similar arrangements, such as Gana Shakti, are also “free to work out their own strategy” for the rural polls.
Ranoj Pegu, the chief of Gana Shakti, had won the Dhemaji Assembly bypoll in April last year on a BJP ticket. Dhemaji is dominated by the Mishing tribe, to which Mr. Pegu belongs.
Mr. Dass said the BJP’s decision to contest the panchayat polls alone is to find the shortcomings so that they can be rectified towards strengthening the party at the grassroots level.