Atul Bora quits post

Guwahati, March 6: AGP working president Atul Bora today resigned from his post ' a development which insiders attributed to the ongoing tussle between the pro and anti-Mahanta camps in the party.

Bora could not be contacted but sources close to him said he had sent in his resignation letter to the party president, the vice-presidents, the general secretaries and the steering committee, owning moral responsibility for the AGP's debacle in the Algapur byelections as well as the embarrassing reports involving the leadership's approach towards the bypoll.

Party president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta confirmed the development, saying he had received a "two-three paragraph" resignation letter from Bora over the Algapur bypoll. "We have requested him to reconsider his decision. We are very unhappy with the Algapur results but we have come to know from our Hailakandi district committee that our candidate, Kamrul Islam Choudhury, slept during the day and campaigned for the AIUDF in the evening!" he said.

With Kamrul bagging just 933 votes, Congress's Mandira Roy won the erstwhile AGP seat, while AIUDF candidate Mehbubul Hasan Laskar finished second.

The loss, however, reduced the AGP's strength in the Assembly from 10 to nine.

Bora's resignation comes within days of another senior leader and sitting MLA, Padma Hazarika, blaming Mahanta for the party's debacle in the panchayat and Algapur elections in a letter, which was leaked to the media.

Mahanta today said if party workers or leaders had grievances they could air these before party forums instead of going to the media. He said he had nothing to say about the Hazarika episode because the latter had not been cooperating since he lost the race to the party president's post in April 2012.

Hazarika had bagged 175 votes against Mahanta's 212.

Though a Hazarika camp member, Bora, a former Golaghat MLA, had comfortably won the working president's post.

Mahanta agreed that the party's performance in the rural polls was not up to expectations. "I have been there for just over nine months, and inbetween I was not keeping well for which I was being treated at AIIMS. I don't have a magic wand but we are working hard to revive the party. I also see a Congress hand in the conspiracies to harm the party and me," he said.

A senior AGP leader told The Telegraph that it was not a bad thing that the power tussle was playing out in the open. "We have nothing to lose now but if these developments result in ridding the party of rotten eggs, it will only be in the party's own interest," he said, in an oblique reference to the ongoing anti-Mahanta campaign.

A woman leader from lower Assam said a meeting of senior leaders held on Monday saw a middle-level party leader from Barak Valley blaming a group of central leaders of influencing the AGP's Algapur candidate to accuse Mahanta for the debacle. "We wanted action against these leaders and so we asked him to name them. But the Barak Valley leader said he would reveal the names only to the party president. So it is clear that a section is out to sabotage the party's interests," she told this correspondent.

Mahanta's caustic and aggressive comments over the Algapur debacle suggest that he is unfazed by the developments and is ready to take on his rivals within the party.