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Double trouble for Assam Congress

- Both insiders, AGP target party

Guwahati, Dec. 31: The ruling Congress today faced the heat from both within and outside in the run-up to the panchayat elections next month.

This was evident from the PCC putting the Kamrup district committee president, H. Kalita, in charge of the Hajo block committee after sustained protests at Rajiv Bhawan here this afternoon against the existing block committee for its “anti-party” activities.

The Opposition AGP, too, stepped up the heat by deciding to focus on what the Congress-led government should have done and have not done while campaigning for the polls.

PCC vice-president Y.L. Karna announced the decision to “pacify” the agitators who had refused to leave without a concrete assurance from state president Bhubaneswar Kalita who had left for Delhi just before the protest started.

He conveyed the decision to Karna after reaching Delhi — something party leaders said could have been taken here itself.

Though Karna said replacement/reconstitution of the block Congress committee will take place only after the polls, the development is being seen in party circles as a victory for former Guwahati MP Kirip Chaliha, the growing marginalisation of former Hajo MLA Haren Das and a commentary on Kalita’s style of functioning.

Chaliha had lost the last Assembly elections because of sabotage by Das’s men, the protesters claimed.

Therefore, they were demanding the dissolution of the block Congress committee as well as making Chaliha the “all-in-all” in candidate selection.

Chaliha, however, said he had to stand by his workers in interest of the party and did not see the outcome as his victory.

The protest also saw Chaliha and his son Arkasish, a management graduate taking baby steps in the world of politics, having a run-in with reporters but later apologised for what they described was a “misunderstanding”.

The Electronic Media Forum, Assam, condemned the attitude of a senior Congress leader who “misbehaved” with a group of reporters.

Around the time the protest started, AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta highlighted the myriad problems the state witnessed under the Tarun Gogoi government in 2012 when the “fear of police and law was totally absent”.

Mahanta said the party would not release any manifesto for panchayat polls as it was very local in nature but instead would focus on the failures of the Congress.

The nomination for the first phase will be over by January 2.