The Telegraph
Saturday , May 24 , 2014
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Desperately seeking ‘iron hand’

- Lower Assam party units want Tarun Gogoi to stay but seek portfolio reshuffle

Bongaigaon, May 23: The ongoing infighting within the Assam Congress has started to take a toll on the party’s foot soldiers in the lower Assam districts.

“Dissidence has harmed the party most,” Majaharul Islam, general secretary of the Kokrajhar district Congress unit, said.

Islam does not support a change in leadership but wants a comprehensive analysis of the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls.

President of the Sidli block unit in Chirang district, Rakesh Brahma, said, “The activities of the dissident legislators has affected the morale of party workers. Hence, the high command should tackle the issue with an iron hand.”

Bongaigaon Congress leader Girish Barua said, “We want Tarun Gogoi to continue as chief minister but what we expect is a change in the portfolios of the ministers.”

Wazed Ali Choudhury, the Congress candidate who lost from Dhubri parliamentary constituency to the AIUDF, said the dissident group had already harmed the party in the Lok Sabha polls.

“The group had worked against me and this led to my defeat, which I have already intimated to the chief minister,” Chaudhury said. “If such activities continue, the party will certainly face a crisis in the 2016 Assembly polls.”

Abul Kalam Rashid Alam, vice-president of the Goalpara district Congress unit said, “Legislators can share their grievances with the high command but demanding replacement of the chief minister was unfair. The rebellion against Gogoi has caused much damage to the party.”

“The high command should expel the dissident leaders without delay,” said general secretary of the Barpeta Congress unit, Shantanu Sarma. “Chief minister Tarun Gogoi should tackle the dissenters boldly in the interest of the party.”

Most of the Congress workers and lower-rung leaders alleged that the “dissident group” backstabbed the party in the election. They said the “Modi factor” may have led to the debacle but the “anti-party lobby within the Congress” ruined the party.

The All Tai Ahom Students’ Union (ATASU) today burnt effigies of the dissident MLAs in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district for allegedly “insulting the history of the state by referring the conflict between the two camps of the Congress as the Battle of Saraighat”.

ATASU president Pranjal Rajkonwar said Sadiya MLA Bolin Chetia had made the comment yesterday. “The dissidents have insulted Assam’s history by comparing their power politics to the Battle of Saraighat by which the state was saved,” he said. In the Battle of Saraighat (1671), Assamese forces defeated Mughal forces which tried to occupy Assam. Gogoi belongs to the Tai Ahom community.

Pradip Lodh Roy, general secretary of the Bongaigaon Congress unit, while apologising for the infighting, said they needed to analyse the failure in the Lok Sabha polls. “But it is also true we need Gogoi’s leadership to guide us through these challenging times,” he said.

Gokul Kalita, another leader, said introspection was the need of the hour.

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