Assam Chief Minister Gogoi set to be replaced next week
The Congress high command is likely to replace Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi early next week.
Gogoi, who has been heading the state since 2001, will be the first Congress chief minister to bow out after the party faced the worst electoral debacle in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Sources said that although Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is awaiting vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s return from his vacation abroad, she has given consent to the decision to oust Gogoi.
Assam Education and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, 46, is likely to replace 80-year-old Chief Minister Gogoi.
Sarma who was once the most trusted lieutenant of Gogoi, has been leading a dissident campaign against the chief minister since 2012.
The decision to replace Gogoi was taken after Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader in Lok Sabha, submitted a report on Assam to Sonia Gandhi on June 30.
Exactly a week earlier, Kharge had visited Assam to seek opinions of the MLAs on the issue of leadership change. According to sources, 47 MLAs, including four ministers, told Kharge that they wanted Sarma as the next CM.
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Gogoi’s woes multiplied when the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), Congress ally for last eight years, called off the alliance amid talks of joining hands with the BJP.
If BPF joins hands with BJP, it will be a tough battle for Congress in 2016 with minority votes being cornered by Baduruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP got seven seats and Congress and AIUDF got three seats each.
While the Congress lost four seats since 2009, BJP gained three and AIUDF two.
Under these changed political situations, Sarma’s role becomes crucial as he is seen as the main architect of the party’s success in the Assembly elections in Assam (2011), Manipur (2012) and Mizoram (2013).