Quell Revolt or Perish: Sonia to Gogoi
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi on Thursday granted the wish of beleaguered Assam CM Tarun Gogoi to have a last chance to keep his position as well as try and quell a raging rebellion by a large section of party MLAs against his leadership. While the All India Congress Committee is closely watching how Gogoi would be dealing with the extra time allotted to him, the high command is also working on a back-up plan in case rebels refuse to buy peace with the CM. Sensing Gogoi’s plot to buy time, rebel leader Himanta Biswa Sarma is claiming more support for him and is threatening to bring a no-confidence motion against the Gogoi government. The central leadership is extra cautious in dealing with the power-struggleinAssamasitthinkstheoutcomein the NE state could have a cascading effect on four other Congress-ruled states – Karnataka, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Uttarakhand. Though Gogoi came to Delhi on Wednesday after announcing his desire to quit by owning up the moral responsi
bility for the party’s poll rout amid a majority of party MLAs turning against him, the veteran Congress leader adopted a different tactical approach by the time he met the party chief on Thursday evening. He requested her to give him the political room to deal with the rebellion. According to sources, Gogoi made this request to the party boss after he expressed confidence in dealing with the crisis back home during meetings with AICC leaders including Ahmad Patel, CP Joshi and Motilal Vora.
After meeting Sonia Gandhi, Gogoi refused to speak to the media. But his s uppor t e r a nd s t at e minister Nilomani Sen Deka said the Congress chief “has outright rejected” Gogoi’s offer to resign. Senior MLA Anjan Dutta said Gandhi has given Gogoi a free hand to revamp the party organisation in the state and as the first step he will reshuffle his ministry after June 1, when he will complete three years in office in his third term. Some state ministers and Congress MLAs turned up to support Gogoi.
According to sources, Gogoi told the high command that the rebels were indulging only in black-mailing tactics and claimed the numbers of other opposition parties in the assembly was not enough to help them prop up an alter native gover nment. He thinks a majority of MLAs would be wary of facing an early assembly poll and, therefore, they would not rock his government. Gogoi told the high command that he had been seeking the support of the AICC to firmly deal with Sarma for some time and had he been allowed to have his way, he could have defused the rebellion long ago.
While the high command has, for the time being, given Gogoi what he wanted, it is still wary of the rebellion going out of control, especially when an NDA government is about to assume office at the Centre. Sources said the AICC, while trying to engage the rebels, has also called in state Congress chief Bhumaneshwar Kalita to stand by and give his assessment of the situation. Some in the Congress also see Kalita as a potential compromise candidate to succeed Gogoi if his efforts to survive fail.