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Gogoi calls on Singh, MLAs meet Patel

New Delhi, May 24: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi met caretaker Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here this afternoon, a day after frenetic political developments unfolded in the state.

It was a courtesy call to the outgoing Prime Minister who is also a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, but sources said the chief minister also betrayed emotions on developments in Dispur during the meeting.

“The chief minister is fed up with the dissidence and the fact that many senior AICC leaders, except the top leaders, seem to have fuelled the dissidence,” a source said.

The sources said Gogoi was disappointed that apart from Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi only a handful of senior leaders remained neutral.

A senior Congress leader conceded that the seniors had not intervened to stem dissidence when they should have. Even treasurer Motilal Vora, who was expected to reach Dispur to defuse the crisis, may reach Assam only by the first week of June.

Gogoi’s anxiety can be attributed to the fact that dissidence is unlikely to wane easily as health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma continues to enjoy support in the CLP.

The chief minister did not turn up for an all-women bhaona, Ram Bijoy, organised by Assam Tourism Development Corporation and a theatre group, Raginee, here today. The organisers were informed that Gogoi was busy in a meeting.

Recalling the struggle of the Congress, PCC chief Bhubaneswar Kalita said the party was in shock because a defeat was not expected. “We have been winning elections since 2001 so we are in shock. As a result, some young leaders are feeling insecure and it has resulted in outbursts,” he told The Telegraph.

Congress sources said the crisis was far from over and day-to-day developments in the two factions would keep the political establishment on its toes. So bad is the scene that Gogoi is said to have admitted to insiders that governance has come to a standstill because of the crisis. Over a dozen MLAs are camping in Delhi while others are busy protesting in Guwahati.

At the Congress Parliamentary Party meet today where Sonia was re-elected leader, she is understood to have referred to states “that drew blanks”, including some Congress-ruled states. Assam is obviously on her mind but more due to the poll debacle than personal animosities that have come into the open over the past two days. The Congress came down from seven seats in 2009 to three in 2014, ceding crucial space to the BJP. The state has Assembly polls in 2016.

Some senior legislators in Gogoi’s camp, including Anjan Dutta, called on Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Sonia, late last night. The crux of the meeting, sources said, was the causes that led to a rise in dissidence and why the AICC did not put its foot down.

Dissidence by Sarma and over 35 legislators of his camp went out of hand yesterday. It was only after Gogoi called up Sarat Barkataky, a senior leader of the camp, that the group backed out from approaching the governor.

A senior leader suggested two alternatives — complete change from top to bottom or keep the leader in place and go for a substantial cabinet reshuffle — to bring the situation under control.


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