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Gogoi meets Sonia in Delhi

Guwahati, June 16: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today met Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi in what appears to be the first of final round of meetings with AICC leaders to find an amicable resolution to the crisis gripping the Congress Legislature Party.

Highly placed sources said the AICC top brass would push for a solution to the CLP crisis before June 22 as the party president was likely to go abroad.

The dissident camp, led by Himanta Biswa Sarma, is expecting a result within 48 hours.

Before leaving for Delhi this afternoon, the chief minister held discussions with senior party MLAs, including Anjan Dutta, with whom the Sarma camp is also in touch.

“It’s an important trip. The AICC and Gogoi will thrash out a solution to cap dissidence in the CLP by taking everyone together. The dissidents have said they will abide by the AICC decision, which means they will have to get into the state cabinet, once it is approved by the AICC, despite Sarma’s public posturing about the dissidents being not interested in ministerial berths,” a party source said.

Sources close to the chief minister said senior AICC leader Ahmed Patel was present in the Gogoi-Sonia meeting and he said “all-is-well” after the meeting, suggesting that Gogoi continues to enjoy the backing of the top brass.

State agriculture minister Nilamani Sen Deka met Gogoi for nearly 20 minutes at his Delhi residence after the meeting.

After the meeting, Congress circles were abuzz with reports of an impending ministerial reshuffle with members from both the Gogoi and Sarma camp getting berths in the new council of ministers.

“Gogoi has to form his cabinet with members from the Sarma camp to show the AICC that he is keen to move on, provided the dissidents keep their part of the bargain. Backroom parleys started between members of both the camps soon after the meeting. Sarma will be there in the new cabinet and the process could gather momentum after Gogoi’s return on Wednesday,” a source said.

That both the Gogoi and Sarma camps are looking forward to an early resolution was evident from Gogoi’s departure for Delhi a day after Sarma met him at his residence and offered to step down from the ministry to allow Gogoi to run the government as he deems right.

Before Gogoi left for Delhi, Sarma attended a meeting of legislators from Barak Valley and PWD minister Ajanta Neog to improve road connectivity to Silchar through Shillong.

A team of Barak Valley legislators, under the leadership of Sarma, is also expected to meet Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma to seek his help in improving the Meghalaya portion of the Guwahati-Shillong-Silchar Road.

Sarma also addressed a news meet wherein he appeared relaxed and said he shared the “best of relationship” with Gogoi. To prove how close they were, he said, “If you want anything done by the chief minister, give it to me and I will get it done.”