Guwahati, Oct. 5: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today asked his ministerial colleagues to use development funds, fill up vacancies and clear appointments in all departments before the model code of conduct for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls comes into force by February.
Gogoi conveyed the message during a meeting of the council of ministers, held at his official residence here this evening. He asked his ministers to take the responsibility for at least one constituency to ensure the victory of Congress candidates in the 2014 polls.
The council of ministers has 19 ministers, including the chief minister, while Assam has 14 Lok Sabha constituencies. In the last polls, the Congress had won seven seats, the BJP four and the AGP, AIUDF and the BJP one each.
There are nearly 40,000 vacancies in the state government, the filling up of which could yield huge electoral benefits to the party.
Sources said Gogoi gave an impression to his ministerial colleagues that next year’s polls would be crucial for the Congress and the party must surpass its previous tally.
He tried to stress on the need to do away with all the differences among Congress MLAs and party leaders and contest the elections as a strong, confident team.
“There were differences of opinions between health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and planning and development minister Tanka Bahadur Rai on development funds and schemes during the meeting,” the source said.
During the meeting, Gogoi decided that the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting, which was earlier scheduled for October 18, would now be held on October 19. The decision was taken after PHE minister Gautam Roy requested the chief minister to postpone the CLP meeting for a day in view of Lakshmi Puja. The CLP meeting has been convened to discuss the grievances of Congress MLAs.
Of Gogoi’s 18 ministerial colleagues, 10 were present in today’s meeting. Sources said the other eight, including forest minister Rakibul Hussain, could not attend the meeting because of their preoccupation with official and constituency-related work as the chief minister had suddenly convened the meeting on Saturday afternoon.
The outcome of the polls is not only crucial for the party, for which every seat has become important in the wake of the challenge mounted by the BJP under Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to unseat the Congress-led UPA, but for the future of both Gogoi and PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita, both of whom are facing challenge to their posts. The party has never lost an election with them at the helm of affairs.
Haren Das, chairman of the PCC’s media department, said the chief minister’s efforts would go a long way in galvanising the party’s rank and file at all levels.
It is prudent on the part of the chief minister to brief his ministerial colleagues about their responsibilities because the political atmosphere has become charged after yesterday’s announcement of Assembly elections to five states, Das said.
The AICC leadership is also focusing on Assam in the Northeast, which has 25 seats (Sikkim included).