Guwahati, March 15: Disgruntled Congress legislators in Assam are likely ask the AICC to lend an ear to their grievances as tension between the pro and anti-Tarun Gogoi camps continues to simmer.
Revealing this, former Congress MP Kirip Chaliha told reporters today that at least one-third of the CLP members in the state had drafted a memorandum for submission to AICC president Sonia Gandhi.
“I have been informed by some of the legislators that the memorandum seeks a hearing of their grievances. There is no denying the fact that there is a great deal of resentment among the young legislators and some state Congress leaders,” he said.
Chaliha, who represented Guwahati twice in the Lok Sabha, told reporters here that he would also personally approach the central leadership of the Congress to apprise the latter about the growing resentment against the ways of functioning of the state government.
Sources told The Telegraph that more than 30 legislators were expected to sign the memorandum, a copy of which would also be submitted to the chief minister.
An insider said the main aim of the memorandum was to “articulate the grievances against most of the ministers in the ruling Congress government as well as bureaucrats”. He said it was an attempt to convey to the high command the “pent up” grievances of the young legislators.
“The memorandum has so far not incorporated anything against Tarun Gogoi. The anti-Gogoi lobby, which is behind drafting of the memorandum, wants to give a message to the high command that whoever the chief minister may be, it will function as a pressure group,” the insider said.
Sources also said Chaliha was trying hard to garner the support of young and anti-Gogoi legislators with an eye on a Rajya Sabha seat. The term of two Upper House seats in Assam will end this year.
Chaliha, however, avoided the question.
Reacting to the development, the chief minister told the reporters on the sidelines of an official function at Kahikuchi in Kamrup district today that Chaliha was not even an office-bearer of the Assam PCC. “The statement made by Chaliha today during a news conference was completely his personal opinion. It cannot be a considered the Congress party’s opinion. Chaliha has every right to express his personal opinions,” Gogoi said.
A Congress source close to the chief minister said he had remained defiant in the face of dissidence since he was firmly in the saddle, with the party high command putting its weight behind him.
Gogoi said the MLAs had the right to approach the high command and express their grievances. “I have nothing to comment on it,” he said.
The revolt within the Assam Congress became official last week after as many as 20 of the party’s 79 legislators refrained from endorsing a signature campaign initiated to repose faith in the chief minister.
The campaign was initiated by a group of Congress leaders, including ministers and legislators known to be Gogoi loyalists. Though 59 legislators signed, the rest, including health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, said there was no question of signing because they were not asked by Gogoi to do so.
The signature campaign was launched after at least 20 legislators met in the official residence of Congress legislator Chandan Sarkar on March 6 night and apparently drew up a strategy to oust Gogoi.
The move of the legislators and Chaliha’s revelation assumes significance as these have come a day after the chief minister downplayed the dissidence against him by a section of his legislators and described them as a “big zero”.
“I don’t care about dissidence. It is the media that is giving them so much importance. For me, they are a big zero,” he had told reporters while coming out of the Assembly yesterday.