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Gogoi plays down infighting

Barpeta, Dec. 15: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today went public about the infighting within the Congress, but said the party had the acumen to resolve such differences.

For the second day running, Gogoi talked about infighting — a development which party insiders said was aimed at conveying to his detractors as well as the public at large that he was neither perturbed nor insecure despite the cloak-and-dagger activities being indulged in by a few of his colleagues.

Gogoi yesterday admitted to the infighting before Congress MLAs at a meeting convened by him in the Congress Legislature Party room in the Assembly. “I admit there is infighting but it is true of all big parties. It was, is and will be there. It is true in households and joint families but the Congress has the ability to control infighting,” Gogoi said while addressing a panchayat poll rally at Kaljhar, 14km from Barpeta and 104km from Guwahati. At the rally, Gogoi also dismissed Opposition AIUDF as “no factor” in the ensuing panchayat elections.

However, party sources said the ever-growing AIUDF is set to pose a serious challenge to the ruling party in the polls, more so after the Kokrajhar riots in July.

While Congress tried to woo voters in Barpeta by promising more development measures, the Opposition AGP, too, held a well-attended rally at Mandia, 7km from Kaljhar where AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta tried to reach out to the minorities by declaring that if the AGP returned to power it would ensure that they are not harassed in the name of foreigners.

Issues related to the panchayat elections will feature prominently at the Assam PCC’s first executive meeting after the constitution of the new committee at Rajiv Bhawan in Guwahati tomorrow. The party’s manifesto for the polls, distribution of tickets and a rally to celebrate UPA’s FDI victory in Parliament will also figure in the meeting.

Congress won the last two panchayat polls comfortably but may face a tough time in lower Assam this time round. “This is why we need to get our act together as soon as possible,” a party insider said.