The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

Gogoi rejects exit poll signs

- Cong will get 8 seats: CM

Guwahati, May 13: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today said he did not believe in exit polls after they predicted the ruling Congress getting anywhere between two and five Lok Sabha seats in the state.

“I don’t give much importance to exit polls. When have they given me seats? It is the people who give us the seats. I am still firm in my belief that we will get around eight seats. Let us wait for the results,” Gogoi said here this afternoon.

The poll results will be out on May 16.

Assam has 14 Lok Sabha seats. In 2009, the Congress won seven, the BJP four and the AGP, BPF and AIUDF one each. In 2004, the Congress had won nine, the BJP two, the AGP two and one went to an Independent.

Most exit polls this time have shown the Congress falling behind its 2009 tally when the state leadership was eyeing around 12 seats after the AGP and BJP failed to strike pre-poll alliance. However, infighting and the Narendra Modi wave, which gathered momentum after the first phase in Assam on April 7, saw the ruling party lose ground.

Though Gogoi is still talking about winning eight seats, party insiders are not expecting more than five to six seats.

“I will stand by my word,” Gogoi said when asked if he would quit, as announced by him at a news meet during the three-phase polls, if the seat tally fell below the 2009 result.

However, sources said Gogoi will not be allowed to immediately relinquish charge over the results because the party may suffer more given the rise of the BJP, which is likely to gain both at the state and national level.

“Though there is unease within the CLP over Gogoi, there is no one who enjoys the support of both camps for the top post. We will be in for a challenging time if the exit poll results come true, as the BJP will be snapping at our heels,” a PCC insider said.

“If the overall result is adverse, then why will the high command let go Gogoi. Assam is still one of the states where the Congress is on a strong wicket. If we remain united, we can bounce back. However, Gogoi needs to reshuffle his team to give a new direction to his government,” the PCC insider said.

Gogoi today reiterated that he would reshuffle his cabinet. At least four ministers and several parliamentary secretaries are in the firing line, sources said, because Gogoi too has realised that there are several non-performers in his team.

Dismissing talks of dissidence, the three-time chief minister said, “Where is dissidence? Even Himanta said we should work towards strengthening the party if NDA takes over at the Centre. Dissidence is only on TV channels,” Gogoi said.

Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is seen as leading the anti-Gogoi camp, had said yesterday that he was with Gogoi. The anti-Gogoi camp had, however, been openly demanding Gogoi’s resignation as home and finance minister.

Senior legislator and former minister Anjan Dutta had yesterday hit back at the anti-Gogoi camp, seeking resignation of ministers and parliamentary secretaries who were indulging in anti-arty activities and fuelling dissidence. “Since Dutta’s direct attack at Gogoi baiters, the latter have piped down a bit,” an insider said.

However, Rameswar Dhanowar, the first to call for Gogoi’s resignation, said everybody is waiting for declaration of poll result. “There will be some development after May 16,” he said from his constituency Digboi in Upper Assam.