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Dissidence blame at Himanta door

- Gogoi gets backing from section of Cong leaders in hour of ‘crisis’ for party

Guwahati, June 29: A section of Assam Congress leaders has blamed minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly fanning dissidence against the Tarun Gogoi-led government.

The leaders want the government under Gogoi to continue as “there is no alternative” during this hour of “crisis” for the party.

The June 23 memorandum submitted by this group to senior Congress leader M. Mallikarjun Kharge during his recent two-day visit to Guwahati appears to be a counter against the three memoranda submitted by the Sarma camp on the same day seeking removal of Gogoi.

The Telegraph had reported earlier about over 45 MLAs seeking change of guard at Dispur. The leaders backing Gogoi, numbering around 45, include ministers, MLAs, PCC office-bearers and district-level leaders.

The two-page memorandum, a copy of which is available with this newspaper, has accused Sarma of indulging in dissidence for removal of Gogoi since May 2012 allegedly through his “own television channel” and “paid media groups”, one prime reason cited for the defeat of the ruling party in the Lok Sabha polls in Assam despite doing “tremendous development work during three consecutive terms under the leadership of Gogoi”.

The leaders accused dissident MLAs of working against party candidates in the Lok Sabha election just to “discredit Gogoi” with the “sole intention” of removing the incumbent chief minister.

The dissident MLAs, according to the section of leaders, wanted to unseat Gogoi and get ministerial berths. Sarma has been described as a man of “doubtful integrity” and “a most controversial figure”.

While accusing the dissident group of collecting signatures through “manipulation and money” for change of leadership before the high command, the memorandum sang paeans to Gogoi, whose experience, sacrifice, image and organisational capacity had not only helped the Congress form three consecutive governments but also helped revive the party during its bad days between 1985 and 1996. In the end, the leaders urged the high command to end the CLP standoff at the earliest so the party under Gogoi’s leadership could launch an aggressive campaign to regain the people’s confidence. Allowing the situation to drift will cost the party dear, the memorandum warned.

Reacting to the development, members of the Sarma camp said such a memorandum would have no impact as they have majority within and outside the CLP. One of them asked, “If a person is of doubtful integrity, how can he (Sarma) manage to hold his team for over two years?”

The three memoranda of the Sarma camp were submitted through PCC secretaries, general secretaries and vice-presidents and over 45 of the 77 Congress MLAs to Kharge.

The dissident group reminded how it had petitioned Sonia Gandhi through Digvijaya Singh in March, 2013, warning about the defeat staring the party in the Lok Sabha polls allegedly because of Gogoi’s “autocratic” style of functioning and taking personal credit for the party’s success and “I do not give a damn” attitude.

When contacted, Sarma declined to comment on the memorandum to Kharge.

Rameshwar Dhanowar, a veteran MLA, said, “In case the high command does not take a decision to settle things in the CLP by July 2, we (dissidents) will meet again next month to draw up future strategies. We are not fighting for ministership. We want to save the party. We will abide by whatever decision the high command takes,” he said.

Those neutral in the CLP and the state Congress said the crisis should end quickly. They said apart from numbers, the high command would look into various other factors if the chief minister has to be removed.

They admitted that a section of AICC leaders is to be blamed for the ongoing crisis. “The dissidence was badly handled. But the good thing is that both sides have reposed faith in the high command,” one of them said.

The high command will take its final decision on the basis of the report and recommendation of Kharge.


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