The Telegraph
Thursday , January 23 , 2014
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Congress meet to curb dissent

Guwahati, Jan. 22: The Assam PCC today chalked out a strategy to do away with dissidence in Congress to ensure victory of a maximum number of its candidates in the parliamentary elections. The party is targeting 12 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats.

Soon after attending the PCC’s executive meeting at Rajiv Bhawan, chief minister Tarun Gogoi here told reporters that the meeting discussed grievances of aggrieved Congress leaders and workers. He said steps would be taken to address the grievances to enable the party to fight the ensuing general elections.

Though Gogoi refused to spell out more, sources told this correspondent that the issue of dissidence figured prominently at today’s PCC executive meeting which was attended by AICC general secretary in-charge of Assam C.P. Joshi.

“Joshi, who is a former Union minister and sitting MP, clearly told the executive members of the PCC that in case dissidence is not done away with, it will be very difficult for the Assam Congress to contest the coming polls with unity and win maximum seats. Joshi said: “Aaplok purana hisab kitab chorke naya hisab kitab par lag jaiye (close your old accounts and start concentrating on new ones),” a source said.

When Joshi was addressing the executive meeting, education and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was also present. Sarma has been backing the dissident Congress MLAs.

Sources said the strategy would include putting a mechanism in place to address grievances of all disgruntled Congress leaders and workers before announcement of Lok Sabha elections. As per strategy, there will be restriction on PCC leaders speaking before the media (specially TV journalists) on issues of the party and the state. The PCC will appoint a panel of leaders who will only speak before the media. Today’s meeting also laid emphasis on use of information technology and social media to reach out to the people to highlight the “success stories” of UPA government.

When contacted, Joshi refused to comment on dissidence in Assam PCC especially in the Congress Legislature Party. Gogoi, on other hand, told reporters that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is a far better candidate for the post of Prime Minister than BJP’s Narendra Modi. He said Modi’s proposed visit to Assam on February 8 would not make any difference.