Special Correspondent

His re-election is only a formality for the Congress MLAs

BPPF may join Congress coalition Party likely to insist on three berths

Guwahati: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday described the emergence of the ruling Congress as the single largest party in Assam as a reflection of the "good performance" of his Government. The Congress won 52 of the 125 seats of which results have been declared so far. The result for one seat is awaited. The party had a strength of 71 in the outgoing Assembly.

Mr. Gogoi, who was re-elected from Titabor, said he would have been happier had the party won a few more seats. He pointed out that though the opposition sought to write him off, the people rejected their bid.

Victory celebration

When reporters pointed out that the Congress failed to secure even a simple majority, Mr. Gogoi said it was difficult to win while in power. Later, he met the AICC leader in-charge of Assam, Digvijay Singh, at his official residence and joined party leaders and cadres for a victory celebration.

Though Mr. Gogoi was not projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate, party sources said electing him would just be a formality for the Congress legislators, who are meeting on May 13.

The Bodoland People's Progressive Front (BPPF), which won 12 seats, is also meeting that day to discuss the formation of a coalition with the Congress. BPPF president Hagrama Mahillary said the party wanted at least three Ministerial berths.

Mr. Mahillary, former chief of militant outfit Bodo Liberation Tigers, said that for the first time since Independence, the Bodos would have an important place in the State's politics.

Dejection in AGP camp

In sharp contrast to the jubilance at Rajiv Bhavan, the Congress headquarters, the mood in the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) headquarters was one of dejection.

The regional party, which won 21 seats in 2001, secured only three more now. The party split after founder-president and Chief Minister for two terms, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, formed the AGP (Progressive). In the new House, he will be the sole representative of the party.

The Bharatiya Janata Party won 10 seats, increasing its strength by two. The Assam United Democratic Front, a conglomerate of 13 minority organisations, also secured 10 seats with president Badaruddin Ajmal winning from both South Salmara and Jamunamukh.

Prominent losers

The Congress suffered setbacks in several constituencies. Prominent losers include Transport Minister Anjan Dutta, Handlloom and Textile Minister Hemoprova Saikia, PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita and the former Power Minister, Devanand Konwar.

Mr. Dutta lost to the AGP's Pradip Hazarika, who was wounded in an attack by the United Liberation Front of Asom and is recuperating in the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. Mr. Kalita lost to Ananta Deka of the CPI(M) in Rangiya while Ms. Saikia, wife of the former Chief Minister, Hiteswar Saikia, lost to the CPI's Drupad Borgohain in Nazira. The CPI(M) regained Sarbhog, where its State secretary Uddhab Barman won.

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