Over 20 MLAs refuse to back Gogoi

Sushanta Talukdar
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CM acted in partisan manner and must be replaced, says Mariani legislator

Differences within the ruling Congress in Assam came out in the open on Thursday with more than 20 of the total 79 legislators of the ruling party refraining from putting their signatures collected by some senior legislators to express full confidence in Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

The campaign was held in the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) chamber in the Assembly, in the wake of media reports about dissidence within the ruling party.

Some Congress MLAs told journalists that the signature campaign was unwarranted as no legislator had expressed no-confidence in Mr. Gogoi or raised a banner of revolt against him.

However, Mariani MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi charged Mr. Gogoi with acting in a partisan manner and not addressing grievances raised by him. He also said that Mr. Gogoi must be replaced.

This is the first time in 12 years that Mr. Gogoi has had to run such a campaign to establish that he was still the undisputed leader in the Congress.

The development came a day after 26 legislators met in the official quarters of senior Congress MLA from Abhayapuri South constituency, Chandan Sarkar, in the Dispur MLA hostel complex, to allegedly discuss plans to take their grievances to the high command.

Mr. Sarkar, however, said the gathering of MLAs at his residence was a ‘casual’ one and nothing was discussed about any revolt. He also denied any dissidence against Mr. Gogoi as reported in the media.

Parliamentary Secretary Bhupen Bora said the signature campaign was initiated in the wake of media reports about dissidence against him.

“We have not run the signature campaign on the directive of any leader. We have done it on our own. However, we admit that there are some grievances among some legislators, which I am sure, we will be able to address jointly,” he added.

Gogoi declines to comment

Mr. Gogoi, however, declined any comment on Thursday though he went on record earlier that he was never bothered by dissidence. Two ex-Congress legislators — Chief Minister’s Press Adviser Bharat Narah and the former Education Minister, Ripun Bora, — actively took part in the signature campaign.

Mr. Narah in a statement said the AICC general secretary, in charge of Assam, Digvijay Singh informed the Chief Minister that he had written a letter to Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma seeking explanation for the alleged “anti-government stand” of a local television news channel News Live.

The News Live is headed by Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, wife of the Education Minister. “The Chief Minister lodged a complaint with the AICC alleging that News Live was taking an anti-government stand. Mr. Singh, while congratulating the Chief Minister for the party’s victory in the recent panchayat polls, conveyed to him that an explanation has been sought from Mr. Himanta Sarma,” Mr. Narah told The Hindu . Mr. Sarma, however, could not be immediately contacted for comment.

Earlier on Wednesday, the State government denied tapping telephones of any Congress legislator and dubbed media reports in this regard as “baseless.”

The government issued the statement a day after four young Congress legislators — Pijush Hazarika, Jayanta Mall Baruah, Pallab Lochan Das and Rajen Barthakur met Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi and sought a probe. The four were among 13 Congress legislators, who took part in a public function in Dhekiajuli in northern Assam’s Sonitpur district on March 3 in which Mr. Sarma laid the foundation stone of a polytechnic.

Speculation was rife in the media and political circles that the assembly of the legislators at Dhekiajuli a day ahead of the current budget session was a prelude to raising a banner of revolt against Mr. Gogoi.

However, the legislators including the Health Minister maintained that they had gone to attend the function at the invitation of the local Congress legislator, Habul Chakrabarty.

  • Explanation sought from Health Minister on TV channel’s ‘anti-government’ stand

  • Government denies tapping phones of any Congress MLA

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