GUWAHATI: The Congress suffered a setback in Assam after four-time sitting MLA and tea garden community leader, Rupjyoti Kurmi resigned from the party on Friday to join the BJP.
He will wear saffron at a programme on Monday in the presence of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and contest the by-elections. The Congress expelled him from its primary membership.
The family of the 43-year-old had been associated with the Congress since 1980s. He has held the Mariani seat since 2006. His mother, the late Rupam Kurmi who represented the constituency for three terms on the trot, had died while serving as a Congress Minister.
Kurmi was miffed that the young leaders allegedly had no place in the party. He said he had written to party president Sonia Gandhi stating that he was born and brought up in a Congress family and served the party sincerely but it did not accord him due importance.
He told journalists that many deserving party workers were denied a position while a few were holding two to three posts.
“I was interviewed by (party’s Assam in-charge) Jitendra Singh and (former Meghalaya CM) Mukul Sangma for the post of Leader of Opposition but was eventually denied the position despite a commitment. I was also not considered for the posts of Pradesh Congress president and chairman of Public Accounts Committee,” a livid Kurmi said.
He slammed the party’s state and central leaderships for the poll debacle in Assam as well as Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
“We had disapproved of the Congress’s alliance with the AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front). We had warned that we would be uprooted by people from Upper Assam. However, the leaders ignored our warning. The party in Assam is run by one-two persons. One of them asserts himself as the leader of the minority community,” Kurmi said.
The Congress suffered in the polls due to its dismal performance in Upper Assam where a strong sentiment of Assamese sub-nationalism works. The voters in this region could not accept the Congress’s poll alignment with the minority-based AIUDF.
Kurmi said it was due to the failures of central leaders that the party fared very poorly in the elections. He said as the leadership was in no mood to listen to young leaders, the party’s organisational base weakened in the five states.
He credited Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot with the party’s success in Rajasthan, Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisgarh, and Capt Amarinder Singh in Punjab. “We did not find any contributions of central leaders in these states,” Kurmi said.
He appreciated the Assam CM’s drive against drug menace and efforts to rid temples and “satras” (Vaishnavite prayer centres) of encroachment and protect the “Gaumata”.