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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Cong faces revolt in Assam, poll-bound Maharashtra

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 21, 2014
First Published: 17:58 IST(21/7/2014) | Last Updated: 01:36 IST(22/7/2014)

Internal divisions within Congress sharpened in Assam and Maharashtra, two of the few states where it is in power, after the resignation on Monday of two disgruntled leaders who have been seeking leadership change in both states.

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For the second time in two months, senior leader Congress leader and Maharashtra industry minister Narayan Rane resigned from the government, slamming chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for "slackness" in decision-making and saying he does not want to be a "partner in defeat" in assembly elections scheduled in October.

After handing over his resignation to Chavan, the influential leader from Konkan told reporters at a press conference, "There is no control over administration. The slow administration affects people's work and dissatisfaction was manifest in Lok Sabha polls."

The Congress-NCP alliance's Lok Sabha tally fell from 25 seats in 2009 Lok Sabha polls to six this general election. At two seats, the Congress has posted its worst electoral tally.

Rane said when he quit Shiva Sena to join Congress in 2005, the central leadership had promised him he would made the chief minister within six months but the promise was never kept in the nine years. He was chief minister for nearly a year at the fag end of the Shiv Sena-BJP regime of 1995-99.

Rane, whose resignation has not been accepted, said he would not leave the party but wait for the outcome of the consultation the chief minister has told would be held with Congress president Sonia Gandhi on this issue.

The disgruntled leader had earlier resigned in May following the defeat of his son and sitting MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg seat Nilesh, but it was not accepted.

In Assam, the revolt was led by health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is believed to be leading a group of dissident Congress MLAs.

After resigning from the cabinet on Monday, Sarma told reporters "he would continue to oppose the state government's anti-people policies within and outside the legislature".

"About 38 MLAs went with me to the Raj Bhavan… I have no confidence in Tarun Gogoi's leadership…Under Gogoi's leadership Congress will come down to single digit in 2016 (assembly polls)," he said.

"Absolute madness prevails and there is no direction under Gogoi. Continuing under him is not feasible politically, mentally and physically. It is not advisable," he added.

Declaring he did not want to topple the government and will abide by any party whip, Sarma said he had informed the government that all the 38 MLAs will play the role of a "constructive opposition" in the assembly.

In the general election in May, Congress won just three of the state's 14 parliamentary seats, giving Gogoi detractors a handle to seek his removal. Its rival BJP improved its tally from three to seven.


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