Leader of dissident Congress MLAs in Assam and state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma resigned on Monday, opposing chief minister Tarun Gogoi's leadership.
"I have submitted my resignation as minister to the governor (JB Patnaik) as I have protested Gogoi's leadership," he told reporters after putting in his papers at the Raj Bhavan.
"About 38 MLAs went with me to the Raj Bhavan but it was my private journey. I have no confidence in Tarun Gogoi's leadership. We are fighting for our party and under Gogoi's leadership, Congress will come down to single digit in 2016," he said.
"Absolute madness prevails and there is no direction under Gogoi. Continuing under Tarun Gogoi is not feasible politically, mentally and physically. It is not advisable. That is why I decided to resign. I will also send my resignation to the chief minister," he added.
To a query, he said, as of now there is no threat to the Gogoi government. "We do not want to topple the government."
Sarma said the governor had been informed that all the 38 MLAs who went with him will play the role of a 'constructive opposition' in the assembly.
"We will oppose Gogoi's anti-people policies. But whenever there is a party whip we will abide by it as we do not want to defy party president Sonia Gandhi."
Gogoi, on his part, denied that he had suggested reshuffle of his ministry after every four months as alleged by dissident minister Sarma.
"I have never uttered such a vague thing. How can one change a ministry in every four months? This allegation has no basis", Gogoi said in a statement issued here after Sarma announced that he had sent in his resignation to the governor.
Gogoi further claimed that in his entire chequered political career since 1971 he had never played communal cards as alleged by Sarma.
"I have been a disciplined soldier of the Congress and my credentials are known to all. I have always worked for the party's interest. My stand and commitment towards the party is well-known. I do not require any certificate from anyone," he added
The chief minister further said he was completely "taken by surprise when he came to know that Sarma had gone to meet the governor," after meeting him (Gogoi) last (Sunday) evening.
Meanwhile, the Congress high command said Gogoi enjoyed majority and dismissed suggestions that the dissidence in the state was against Rahul Gandhi.
"It is not a rebellion against Rahul at all. Whole issue is some people would not be happy with the chief minister. But majority are with the chief minister," Congress leader Kamal Nath told reporters outside Parliament House.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi had sent senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge as central observer to Assam last month.
Kharge had met all party MLAs as also PCC office bearers and had submitted his report to the party president.
Last week, the AICC had ruled out any change in the leadership of the state ahead of the assembly session there.
Gogoi had also said in Guwahati that his government would continue.
Describing reports that Gogoi would be replaced soon as media speculation, AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi had last week remarked, "There is nothing in all this speculation. The high command will take a decision on the matter after studying the reports of the last few months. As of now, everything remains as it is."