New Delhi, May 22: Sonia Gandhi has asked Tarun Gogoi to continue in office, prompting his camp to interpret it as a rejection of his resignation offer, but a senior Congress leader said the final decision would be taken after consultations with MLAs.
“When Mr Gogoi met the Congress president and offered to resign, he was told to return to Assam while the party would think about his offer following consultations with other MLAs,” C.P. Joshi, the Congress’s Assam in-charge, told The Telegraph.
“Consultations” would mean that the supporters of Gogoi’s challenger Himanta Biswa Sarma will get an opportunity to voice their opinion. The Sarma camp claims the support of half the MLAs of the Congress.
Gogoi had offered to resign after the poor show of the Congress in Assam. The party could win only three seats while the BJP bagged seven and the Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF increased its tally from one to three.
Legislator Anjan Dutta, a supporter of Gogoi, told reporters after Gogoi’s meeting with Sonia that “the chief minister was told to continue in office”. He added that Gogoi had been asked to effect a cabinet reshuffle after June 1. Assam PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita said Sonia had “rejected” Gogoi’s resignation. Bijoy Krishna Handique said Gogoi “was, is and will continue to be the leader.”
Gogoi himself did not speak to reporters and said a release from the AICC and a subsequent briefing in Guwahati would make things clear.
Gogoi, who flew to the capital to offer his resignation, was earlier locked in a series of meetings with senior Congress leaders like Joshi, AICC treasurer Motilal Vora and Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, that culminated in meetings with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the Congress president.
The ministers and legislators who have been camping in the capital for the past two days anxious about Gogoi’s resignation and their own future, rushed to 6, Teen Murti Lane, the long-time official residence of the Gogois in Delhi, soon after the meeting. Gogoi had stayed there as MP years ago. Later, he had handed it over to brother Dip Gogoi and it is now expected to be occupied by son Gaurav Gogoi who won from Kaliabor.
The ministers and legislators camping in Delhi to champion Gogoi’s cause include Rakibul Hussain, Nilamani Sen Deka, Bismita Gogoi and Anjan Dutta, Pradyut Bordoloi, Tanka Bahadur Rai, Durlabh Chamoha, Debabrata Saikia, Vivekananda Doloi, Etuwa Munda, Sushanta Buragohain and Monica Bora.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is understood to enjoy the support of 37 of the 77 Congress legislators, stayed put in Guwahati today.
Factionalism in the Congress was seen right up to the panchayat level where loyalists of one faction refused to work for the other during the general elections. The results have obviously shaken 10 Janpath, although the dissent within the party has not abated even after the debacle.
Regarding a compromise formula, sources said a cabinet reshuffle next month might bring some balance. Hussain said they were assured after Sonia’s intervention and assurance to Gogoi. He expressed confidence that the Congress would win the 2016 Assembly elections, a claim that the BJP is now in a position to challenge.