GUWAHATI: Battle-worn Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who hasn’t reshuffled his ministry in over 13 years since assuming office, is likely to go in for an overhaul of his team -- to keep the Congress rebels in good humour and to prepare the party for the next Assembly elections due in early 2016.
Gogoi is currently in Delhi, meeting senior party leaders on the matter. On Tuesday, he met party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi among others, but not much was known about what transpired between them. However, the Chief Minister is learnt to have submitted to the leadership a list of those who are to be picked and dropped during the reshuffle.
A whopping 53 of the 78 Congress legislators in the state had earlier raised the banner of revolt against him. The rebellion reached a flash point when the rebels threatened to take up the matter with the Governor. The issue then was resolved by the leadership but the flames of dissidence were not fully doused.
Infighting has severely dented the image of the party in the state. So, a section of the Congress leaders feel that reshuffle will help the party take on a belligerent BJP in the polls.
“The CM is likely to induct eight old and new faces, including some from the rebel camp, into his ministry,” a Congress source told Express.
Four portfolios are lying vacant after Gogoi dropped two ministers and two others resigned. He will not be able to accommodate the eight without axing at least four non-performers. Now, the heat is on him. Once the leadership approves the list, Gogoi may ask all his ministers to step down for swearing-in of the new ministry.
The Congress, which has been in power in the state since 2001, was literally invincible until last year. But infighting took a toll as the party managed to win only three seats, down from seven in 2009 in the Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP grabbed seven of the 14 seats. “We are preparing for the polls. Our aim is to grab 95 seats,” state Congress chief Bhubaneswar Kalita had said recently.
The Opposition All India United Democratic Front was quick to react, with party president and Lok Sabha MP Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, asking the Congress to see the writing on the wall.