Ripun Bora’s residence in Guwahati. Picture by Eastern Projections
Guwahati, June 5: The Congress government in Assam and the PCC today adopted an offence-is-the-best-defence strategy on the bribery case involving Ripun Bora who has been dropped from the Tarun Gogoi cabinet.
Ministers, MLAs and PCC office-bearers attended a jam-packed meeting at chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s residence early in the morning to prepare an action plan to offset the damages caused to the government and the party’s images by the arrest of the former education minister.
Determined to take the Opposition head on, the Congress leaders will be banking on aggressive campaign showcasing the government’s achievements and the flaws of the Opposition camp.
Bora was arrested from New Delhi on Tuesday for allegedly offering a bribe to a CBI officer to hush up the Daniel Topno murder case.
Today’s meeting was ostensibly convened to finalise preparations for party chief Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Guwahati to address a kisan rally on June 13, but those in the know of things said the underlying objective was to gauge the mood of the participants on the Bora issue. They were told that the party had taken the matter seriously by immediately sacking Bora but would not like to leave an open field to its detractors.
Congress leaders were reportedly asked to counter the Opposition attack by using names of tainted leaders, including former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, AGP leader Dilip Saikia So-nowal, BJP leader Bangaru Laxman, NDA convenor George Fernandez, among others.
“Besides making preparations for the rally in Khanapara, we have been instructed to use these big names at rallies in the run-up to the elections,” one of them said.
Hours later, Gogoi and PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita led from the front in implementing the strategy.
“Bora has not yet been proved guilty but since the case is of serious nature I dropped him promptly from the cabinet. The Opposition has no moral right to seek my resignation. Former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has been left untouched though he was implicated in the LoC case. He was saved by the governor,” Gogoi told the media on the sidelines of a programme at the Sankaradeva Kalakshetra. At a news conference at Rajiv Bhawan this evening, Kalita said: “Bora has been dropped from the cabinet but Assam has not forgotten the names of various ministers and MLAs from the AGP and the AGP(P) who are involved in criminal cases.”
An official source said the CBI today despatched the 15 documents seized from Bora’s private residence at Chandan Nagar in Bhagadattapur on Wednesday evening, to its headquarters in New Delhi. He said most of the documents related to his financial transactions. Bora’s official residence in Dispur capital complex could be searched, he said. The CBI sealed the rented house of Mukul Pathak in the South Sarania area of the city yesterday.