Himanta Biswa Sarma claims Rajdeep Goala will join BJP
BJP leader and Assam cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday claimed that the Congress’s Lakhipur MLA Rajdeep Goala would join the ruling party soon. The Congress, however, dismissed the claim as a “hoax”.
“Goala will join the BJP within a day or two. Many others will also join but as of now Goala’s joining is confirmed,” Sarma told reporters at the Assembly after the BJP’s Rajya Sabha candidate Bhubaneswar Kalita filed his nomination papers.
Goala, in his thirties and from the Barak Valley, was first elected as a legislator in the 2014 byelection following the demise of his legislator father, Congress veteran Dinesh Prasad Goala.
Asked whether the BJP could win the third Rajya Sabha seat despite not having the numbers, Sarma had on Thursday said that an important Congress MLA would join the party soon while a few others were also considering joining the BJP.
Sarma’s claim about Goala was enough to create a flutter in the Opposition circles because most of the young Congress MLAs were close to Sarma and still maintain ties with him.
The state Congress leadership promptly established contact with Goala after which Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Ripun Bora dismissed Sarma’s claim as a “hoax”.
“We have talked to Goala. He is in Delhi with his mother who is unwell. He assured us that he would not join the BJP. We too know that he will not betray the party,” Bora said.
The PCC president added that not everyone in the Congress was like Sarma or Jyotiraditya Scindia, who jumped ship in August 2015 and March 2020 respectively to join the ruling party. “No MLA is leaving the party. Sarma is a hoax expert,” Bora said.
Goala was re-elected from Lakhipur in 2016. He is the chairman of the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, a post, insiders say, he got because of his proximity with Sarma.
Congress insiders said the BJP had approached at least eight Congress MLAs, including Goala and Roselina Tirkey, both tea community leaders. “Nobody has jumped the gun so far but we don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” one of them said.
They said Goala was trying to change his constituency to Udharbond because of the BJP’s growing clout in Lakhipur. Udharbond, which was earlier represented by senior party leader Ajit Singh, is also in Barak Valley. “That could be a reason but not enough to jump ship,” one of them said.