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Narah back in Dispur fold

Guwahati, Dec. 3: Bharat Chandra Narah, who had lost the 2011 Assembly elections after five straight wins, staged a quiet return to Dispur this afternoon after being appointed the press adviser to the chief minister, in the rank of a cabinet minister.

Narah, who was maintaining a low profile since losing his Dhakuakhana bastion in Lakhimpur district to debutante AGP legislator Naba Kumar Doley, met Gogoi in his office this afternoon.

Gogoi instructed chief secretary N.K. Das to issue the necessary notification in this connection before leaving for Calcutta for his onward journey to Ho Chi Minh City to participate in the flagging-off ceremony of the Asean-India car rally on Friday.

The move assumes significance not only because of the much-awaited rehabilitation of Narah but is also being seen as a move to check the anti-Gogoi camp that has once again become restive.

Narah, a former minister, is not only experienced but is well-connected. He was a senior leader in the AASU and AGP before switching to the Congress. He was a senior cabinet minister in the last two Gogoi governments and a government spokesperson.

Gogoi is said to have backed his wife, Lakhimpur Lok Sabha MP Ranee Narah’s inclusion in the Union council of ministers as minister of state for tribal affairs in October.

Congress insiders said Gogoi has not only beefed-up his press team by appointing Narah but has also reached out to senior leaders, considered important in the party’s overall scheme of things despite not being MLAs or MPs.

A government spokesperson can concentrate better on airing views of Dispur than ministers who are finding it difficult to slip into the role in these trying times for the government, which is facing one crisis after another since April.

Gogoi has also fortified his influence on the north bank which has now two ministers, two parliamentary secretaries, one Union minister of state as well as two senior hands in Narah and Ripun Bora, a former minister who was recently appointed chairman of Assam PCC’s flagship programme with important assignments.

Parliamentary secretary (home) Bhupen Kumar Bora described the development as “the right man for the right job”.

Narah was tipped to take over from Pankaj Bora, who was sent to the Rajya Sabha in December 2011.

Gogoi appointed another former Congress MLA Abdul Khaleque as his press secretary but had kept the adviser’s post vacant.