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Congress to stake claim in Assam

Tarun Gogoi was today elected as Congress Legislature Party leader.

india Updated: May 13, 2006 12:29 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Tarun Gogoi was on Saturday unanimously elected as Congress Legislature Party leader in Assam.

Gogoi was the chief minister in the outgoing Congress ministry.

The meeting also decided to give three ministerial berths to alliance partner Bodoland People's Progressive Front (Hagrama) in the new Congress-led coalition ministry in the state.

The ruling Congress party will stake its claim on Saturday to forming the next government in Assam.

Tarun Gogoi is likely to head the state for a second successive term.

Senior party leaders will meet Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Ajai Singh to formally stake the party claim, a Congress spokesperson said.

The Congress won 53 seats in the 126-member state legislature in last month's assembly poll, down from the 71 it had garnered in the 2001 elections, but its ally, the Hagrama Mohilary faction of the Bodo People's Progressive Front (BPPF-H), obtained 11 seats.

Prior to meeting the Governor, the Congress legislators would elect their leader - a mere formality, as Gogoi has emerged the unanimous choice for the top post.

"Other than Tarun Gogoi, no second name is likely to come up at the Congress Legislature Party meeting," a senior Congress leader said.

The main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) won 24 seats - a gain of just four seats for the regional party compared to the last elections.

"At least six independents and the lone Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator have already offered unconditional support to us," the Congress leader said.

The newly formed Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), a Muslim-based party that won 10 seats, has also hinted at supporting the Congress although the two parties were at loggerheads while fighting the polls.

"Ensuring political stability is our topmost concern and if given due respect we could support the Congress government," AUDF president Badrudding Ajmal told journalists.

Although the BPPF-H is the lone pre-poll partner, the tribal Bodo party is now trying to do some hard bargaining.

"We have asked for two cabinet berths, including the post of deputy chief minister, and two ministers of state with independent charge," BPPF-H spokesman Khampa Borgoyari said.

The Congress camp, however, is not worried by the wish list of its tribal ally. "We are holding talks with the BPPF-H and we would form the government without any problems," Gogoi said.

First Published: May 13, 2006 10:35 IST