KOLKATA: With Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi standing rock solid behind him, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi appears to have defused the revolt within the party’s state unit.
However, the problem is yet to be fully resolved and Gogoi has been directed soon to set his house in order and ensure the stability of the government.
After accepting the resignation of Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who had led the revolt against the Chief Minister with the support of a majority of the 78 party MLAs, Gogoi on Tuesday sacked two cabinet ministers, Ardhendu Dey and Siddique Ahmed.
On Wednesday, the Chief Minister allocated their portfolios to four other ministers but kept the transport portfolio vacant, dangling it before some rebel MLAs.
He got 12 ministers to petition the AICC demanding stern disciplinary action against Sarma.
Congress spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora told Express on Wednesday: “Being a minister, Sarma cannot go directly to the Governor and submit his resignation. He has violated the constitution, principles and tradition of the party. He and some ministers and MLAs had been openly speaking against the Chief Minister which amounts to political insubordination.
The AICC will now decide what action is to be taken against them as indiscipline will no more be tolerated.”
Though Siddeque’s supporters called a general strike in Barak Valley on Wednesday, it did not evoke much response.
Sarma who had the support of 32 Congress legislators, 17 of whom accompanied him when he submitted his resignation to Governor J B Patnaik on Monday, now has the support of only 12 MLAs, with whom he held a meeting on Wednesday.
A majority of the rebel MLAs who had been vocal demanding Gogoi’s removal after the Congress’ debacle in the Lok Sabha polls and voiced their demand before AICC observer Mallikarjun Karge last month were told that the Chief Minister had Rahul’s backing. That did the trick and most of the rebels became silent.
After Sarma’s exit and the sacking of the other two ministers, at least 12 Congress MLAs came in two groups and met Gogoi, pledging their support for him. Newly elected MP from Silchar, Susmita Deb, who had earlier sided with Sarma, also met the Chief Minister.
Many who had sided with Sarma are also scared of a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the `2,500-crore Saradha chit fund scam, as prime accused Sudipto Sen had in his 16-page letter to the investigative agency named Sarma.