Ex-Assam minister to quit assembly seat, crisis haunts Congress

New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) Former Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who joined the BJP last month, on Saturday said that he will soon resign from his seat in the state assembly after leading nine Congress MLAs from the state to a meeting with BJP president Amit Shah here.

“I will resign from my seat in the assembly in a day or two after returning to Assam,” Sarma told the media here after the meeting.

Sarma, who held the state’s health and education portfolios, quit his ministerial post in July last year after a major fallout with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Sarma was at one time seen as Gogoi’s blue-eyed boy.

Stating that the fall of the Gogoi-led Congress government was certain in next year’s assembly elections in the state, Sarma said: “We don’t want to defeat Gogoi by playing the game of numbers. Not MLAs, but the people of Assam will bring about the downfall of the Gogoi government.”

He added: “We are not going to move a no-confidence motion against the chief minister. We may consider resigning which would force the chief minister to go to the people and seek their mandate again.”

The strategy, however, he said would be fixed by the BJP leadership only.

He also referred to Gogoi’s remarks on Friday that it was difficult for the state government to alone fight the ongoing wave of devastating floods in Assam due to lack of funds.

“Since he is citing lack of funds as the reason for failing to fight the flood situation, then let there be a government that can have funds,” the former minister said.

Regarding Saturday’s meeting with Shah, Sarma said that since the BJP president expressed his desire to meet the 10 MLAs, he brought them along.

The nine Congress MLAs comprised Jayantamalla Barua, Pijush Hazarika, Pallablochan Das, Bolin Chetia, Kripanath Malla, Binanda Saikia, Pradan Barua, Rajen Borthakur and Abu Taher Bepari. Trinamool Congress legislator Dwipen Pathak, who recently resigned from his party, also decided to join the BJP and met Shah on Saturday.

Sarma claimed that in the days to come, as many as 500 NSUI, Youth Congress and district-level Congress workers would soon join the BJP.

“They will be joining batch by batch. We have to take into consideration the sentiments of the long-serving BJP workers and ensure that they do not get hurt,” he said.

Sarma was elected in 2011 to the state assembly from the prestigious Jalukbari seat by a record margin of nearly 78,000 votes.

“We have met Amit Shah today (Saturday) and expressed our willingness to join the BJP and work under strong leadership of Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Jayanta Malla Baruah after the meeting with Shah.

Baruah said that they would formally join the saffron party at a date fixed by president of the Assam unit of the BJP Siddhartha Bhattacharyya.

We will ensure that the party’s Mission 84 (winning 84 of the state’s 126 assembly seats) is successful,” he said.

It may be mentioned here that the Congress, which has been in power in Assam since 2001, had the support of 78 legislators in the 126-member house till Sarma joined the BJP last month.

The All India United Democratic Front has the support of 18 legislators, followed by Bodoland Peoples’ Front (12), Asom Gana Parishad (nine), BJP (six) and two Independents.

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