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Cong meet on debacle today

Guwahati, May 28: The ruling Congress will get down to analysing the reasons for the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha elections in the state here tomorrow as dissident legislators in the Congress Legislature Party camp are in Delhi to air their grievances.

The meeting will be the first called by the state Congress following the declaration of results which saw the party bag just three seats, its worst performance till date. In 2009, it had won seven seats. Most within the party have blamed the fall to the intense infighting within the CLP.

The dissident faction, led by education and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, wants a change in leadership but despite chief minister Tarun Gogoi offering to resign after the poll debacle, the high command has decided to continue with him, at least for the time being.

Sarat Borkataky of the Sarma camp had, however, earlier said that they were not against Gogoi but for strengthening the party.

PCC general secretary Ranjan Bora said the meeting of district Congress committee presidents and observers of the 13 constituencies where the party fielded its candidates would be held as scheduled. Besides seeking views on the debacle, the meeting will also discuss issues related to Assembly bypolls and urban body polls. State unit president Bhubaneswar Kalita chaired a meeting of office-bearers this evening, a routine exercise before any important meeting convened by the PCC.

“It is an important meeting to assess ground realities and prepare a road map to recover lost ground. It has nothing to do with the CLP infighting,” a PCC member said, trying to downplay the crisis gripping the CLP, which is divided into Gogoi and Sarma camps.

In New Delhi, 22 legislators belonging to the Sarma camp met a three-member AICC committee for over two hours over the situation prevailing in the state.

Though it is not clear what transpired, sources here said the high command was still supporting Gogoi, was firm that it would decide on the demand for a cabinet reshuffle and wanted all the MLAs to go back and work for the party.

Sarma had on Friday dropped hints about quitting by June 1. His declaration at a press meet here today that he has convened a meeting of education officials on June 3 and 7 added to the suspense. Downplaying the meetings and evading a direct answer, he said he may or may not be there but the post of education minister would always be there. The announcement could also reflect a change of mind after some kind of reconciliation is stitched up by the AICC, a party insider said.

Gogoi attended office as usual and chaired the weekly law and order meeting.

He also congratulated Gen. V.K. Singh, Sarbananda Sonowal and Kiren Rijiju for being inducted as ministers of state in the council of ministers. In a statement, Gogoi hoped that Assam in particular and the Northeast in general would make further progress in the spheres of infrastructure, sports, skill and entrepreneurial development and law and order.