GUWAHATI: In a bid to quell dissidence in the ruling Congress in Assam, AICC observer Mallikarjun Kharge today urged party members to work unitedly to fight the BJP-led NDA even as he is scheduled to individually meet the Congress MLA and MPs on the dissidence issue tonight.
Kharge addressed a meeting at the APCC headquarters, Rajib Bhaban here, attended by state party chief Bhubaneswar Kalita, party office-bearers, district committee presidents, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, both his supporting and dissident ministers, MLAs and other party leaders.
Coming out of the closed door meeting, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, replying to waiting reporters' queries if he had discussions on the dissidence issue, Kharge said, "No. Only about strengthening the party".
The Chief Minister, whose leadership is being challenged by the dissidents, told the media, "the performance of the Congress in the last Lok Sabha polls, railway fare and freight hike by the Modi Government and price rise were discussed. He urged all to fight the NDA unitedly".
"There is no need to be disheartened by the Congress poll performance. Earlier after poor performance we have again done well", Gogoi said.
Health and Education Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma leading the two-year long dissidence with 45 MLAs said, "Kharge will individually meet the MLAs and MPs tonight and tomorrow morning."
"Kharge asked us to unitedly carry on with our fight against the NDA and Narendra Modi government", Sarma added.
Replying to a question whether the dissidence issue was discussed, former Chief Minister and a senior leader in the dissident camp, Dr Bhumidhar Barman said, "No such discussion. Kharge will talk individually with the MLAs and MPs to know their views".
"CLP (Congress Legislature Party) is together and will remain so always. Congress is always united. He asked us to fight unitedly the railway fare and freight hike and the anti- people policies of the NDA", Barman said.
"BJP's marketing strategy made it win the elections, but Modi's false promises and propoganda have now been exposed within one month of coming to power. Kharge has asked us to go to the people to inform them about the failures of the NDA", he added.
Though the APCC's official stand was that Kharge accompanied by AICC general secretary Ashis Kulkarni was in Guwahati to discuss the railway fare hike issue, sources in the party said, the party high command has sent him to assess the political situation following demands by the dissidents for a change in the CLP leadership.
After the individual meetings with Gogoi loyalists and dissidents, Kharge is expected to submit his report to party president Sonia Gandhi for taking the final decision on the demand for change in leadership, the sources said.