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Kharge returns with feedback

Kharge

Guwahati, June 24: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s fate has been sealed in the report senior AICC leader Mallikarjun Kharge will submit to the party high command. Kharge returned to Delhi this afternoon.

Kharge, who was sent to Assam by the party top brass to assess the demand for change of leadership in the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), interacted with 71 party MLAs, a host of sitting and former MPs, PCC office-bearers, district Congress committee presidents, frontal heads and development council chiefs since Monday afternoon.

Gogoi was among the party leaders who met him for nearly 45 minutes at Brahmaputra Hotel this morning.

The three-term chief minister, who has been maintaining silence on the CLP crisis since June 20, told reporters after his interaction with Kharge, “There has been a demand for change of leadership from some MLAs. The high command will take a final decision.” Gogoi was his cool composed self as he went about his daily official chores after the meeting.

The Telegraph’s interactions with members from both the Sarma and Gogoi camps suggested that it could be advantage Himanta Biswa Sarma who has been seeking a change of guard for over two years.

“Any decision the high command takes will have to involve Sarma who seems to be on a sure footing as a factor in state Congress politics after Kharge’s visit,” a member of his camp claimed.

The high command is expected to take a decision by month-end.

The interactions also suggested that every party leader wants an immediate end to the over two-year-old CLP crisis. Most of them admitted that a majority of MLAs and a “good number” of DCC presidents were with the Sarma camp.

They said efforts were still on for a patch-up to ensure that the party fights the 2016 Assembly elections as a united house unlike the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, which was marred by dissension.

Those neutral in the power struggle said though the odds were stacked against Gogoi, the high command may not go solely on the basis of numbers.

Party leaders also said that Gogoi may be asked to continue till at least 2016 by sharing power with the Sarma camp.

Gogoi backers said his pan-Assam appeal, the backing of the politically important Ahom community (over 30 lakh) and loyalty to the Gandhi family and party were working in his favour. They said his unceremonious exit could have an adverse impact on the party, especially in Upper Assam.

Before leaving for Delhi, Kharge said he had got the views of the party leaders and that he would submit his report to the high command.