Assam Congress rejigs strategy as nine rebels set to join BJP | india | Hindustan Times
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Assam Congress rejigs strategy as nine rebels set to join BJP

The BJP’s surge in Assam is set to receive a shot in the arm with nine rebel Congress legislators formally joining it on Friday even as the ruling party stepped up its efforts to contain the damage ahead of the assembly elections in March-April next year.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2015 08:07 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
BJP
Desperate to retain power, chief minister Tarun Gogoi did not rule out an alliance with AIUDF that he had once dubbed as a “communal” party. (PTI photo)

The BJP’s surge in Assam is set to receive a shot in the ar m with nine rebel Congress legislators formally joining it on Friday even as the ruling party stepped up its efforts to contain the damage ahead of the assembly elections in March-April next year.

Realising the urgency to minimise the impact of rebellion in its ranks triggered by the exit of senior leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi recently summoned chief minister Tarun Gogoi and state chief Anjan Datta to Delhi to review the poll preparations. The nine rebel MLAs include former state Youth Congress president Piyush Hazarika.

The Congress leaders gave a final shape to a strategy to counter not only 15 years of antiincumbency but also the “saffron surge” that began with the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP had then bagged seven out of the 14 seats with the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) of Badruddin Ajmal winning three each.

The Congress had announced all the election-related panels in September, months ahead of the polls. In the past, the party would set up these near the election time. “The idea is to seize the first mover advantage,” said a senior central functionary. Gandhi also told the state leaders that he would open his Assam campaign with two public meetings after Diwali.

Desperate to retain power, Gogoi did not rule out an alliance with AIUDF that he had once dubbed as a “communal” party. He suggested that the Congress is open to having a tie-up with all anti-BJP forces. In its poll panels, the Congress has given representation to all sections. Former Union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, a tea community leader, is heading the all-important campaign committee.

(With inputs from Digambar Patowary in Guwahati)