| Gogoi offers a cake to PCC chief Kalita as APYC chief Rekibuddin Ahmed looks on. Picture by Eastern Projections
Guwahati, May 22: The Assam PCC today put up a show of unity by unanimously retaining Bhuban-eswar Kalita as party president, but apprehensions about bickering forced the party leadership to tactfully avoid elections to the posts of vice-president and treasurer.
Several senior Congress leaders, including Cabinet ministers, were eyeing the two vacant posts and it was evident that an election would split the party. Gauging the mood within the PCC, the party think-tank decided against holding the election.
Former chief minister Anwara Taimur later said AICC returning officer Subhash Chopra would fill all the vacant posts in consultation with chief minister Tarun Gogoi and the newly-elected PCC president. The resolution was seconded by health and family welfare minister Bhumidhar Barman.
Though Gogoi was all smiles during Kalita’s felicitation, it was no secret that he had backed MP Kirip Chaliha for the top PCC post. In the end, it was the high command’s writ that prevailed.
The election to the PCC president’s post was a crucial one for the chief minister because the incumbent will play the major role in distribution of tickets for the Assembly elections next year. Gogoi would have had his way in this department had his man been chosen instead of Kalita.
Veteran party leaders Sarat Borkotoky and Bishnu Prasad, and transport and industry minister Anjan Dutta were in the race for the post of vice-president. Social welfare minister Gautam Roy, incumbent Jai Kumar Jain and senior party functionary Anil Raja were said to be eyeing the treasurer’s post.
The PCC general secretaries and other functionaries, including representatives of the state unit in the AICC, are nominated by the president.
Thanks to some behind-the-scenes manoeuvring over the last few days, Kalita retained the top job in the PCC without any dissent.
Chaliha and fellow MP Dijen Sarma, both of whom were in the race, could not arrive from New Delhi in time to meet the deadline for filing nominations, which was allegedly announced at short notice. Several Congress leaders had cried foul over this.
But there was no sign of dissent when Kalita’s name was announced on the day that mattered. “I have been maintaining that there is no difference between Kalita and me, which was proved today,” the chief minister said.