The dissidence drama in the ruling Congress party in Assam took a new turn Sunday with health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma offering to resign from the Tarun Gogoi ministry. Sarma also claimed that the dissidents had “quit the battlefield” and would work for the party from Monday.
Sarma, who has been heading the dissidents’ camp by claiming the support of 45 of the 79 Congress MLAs in the state, met Gogoi Sunday and offered to quit. Sarma, however, said he had not submitted a written resignation but had only conveyed his willingness verbally in order to make room for a new face whenever the CM wanted to carry out a reshuffle.
He met Gogoi on Sunday after returning from Delhi Saturday after meeting senior AICC leaders. The health minister, who was once Gogoi’s most trusted lieutenant, has become a major headache for the CM since the latter got his son Gaurav into the party.
The health minister said he had also told the CM that three other senior ministers — irrigation minister Ardhendu Kumar Dey, PHE minister Gautam Roy and border areas minister Siddeque Ahmed — were also willing to resign from the ministry.
“We have quit the battlefield,” Sarma said. He also said he and the 46 MLAs of the dissidents’ camp had decided on Saturday not to create any situation that might further deepen the crisis that the ruling party has been suffering from since the drubbing in the LS elections last month.
“We will accept the party High Command’s decisions. Congress President Sonia Gandhi is more concerned about the party than us. We have placed our demands before the party high command,” the health minister said. He added that none of the 46 party legislators of his camp would accept any ministerial position but would extend full cooperation to Gogoi,” Sarma added.