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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Sonia Gandhi steps in, saves Assam CM for now

Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 09, 2013
First Published: 20:29 IST(9/3/2013) | Last Updated: 00:49 IST(10/3/2013)

A terse message from the All India Congress Committee led by party president Sonia Gandhi has defused the dissident-led political crisis that posed a threat to three-term CM Tarun Gogoi for the time being.


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“An AICC high command message which said that the situation could not be allowed to escalate at any cost has defused the crisis for now,” a party source told HT.

Rumours mills went agog all of a sudden in Guwahati on Thursday after a section of dissidents, numbering more than 20, came out in open defiance of Gogoi after a dinner party hosted in the home of Congress MLA Chandan Sarkar.

This is the first serious political crisis of Gogoi who has otherwise been the unquestioned leader of the Congress in Assam even as fingers were pointed at Himanta Biswa Sarma, the state’s education and health minister, who is alleged to be the architect of the revolt.

Trouble had been brewing in Assam Congress circles since the run-up to India’s vice-presidential polls in August 2012 when Gogoi’s name started doing the rounds as a strong contender for the VP post. The pro-Gogoi camp had alleged a strategy behind such rumours with the intention of removing Gogoi from the political scene in Assam.

A thumping victory in the state assembly polls in 2011 when the Congress bagged 78 seats ensured CM-ship for Gogoi for an unprecedented third consecutive term in the state.

Sources said Gogoi’s removal from the state helm at this point in time may also alter prospects of the ongoing peace negotiations with the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom, a process the CM has been keenly facilitating.

However, the Congress high command’s tacit approval of political status quo for now underscores the fact that Sarma, despite his alleged support to the anti-Gogoi dissidence, enjoys significant clout in AICC. Also the fact that an aging Gogoi, at 78, is to be no longer considered the undisputed leader of the party in the state.

Wednesday’s dinner-party dissidence saw Gogoi air-dashing to New Delhi on Friday for apparent consultations with the AICC high command, followed only too closely by a couple of hours by Sarma.

On Thursday, the pro-Gogoi faction had embarked on a signature campaign in the Assam assembly only to be prevented by the CM later through a party whip.


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