Congress president Sonia Gandhi Thursday not only refused to accept Tarun Gogoi’s resignation for the party’s poor show in the Lok Sabha elections in the state but also vested more powers with the Assam chief minister, sources said. This came even as Gogoi detractors in the party demanded his ouster and announced a replacement in Guwahati.
A ministry reshuffle and a revamp of the Assam PCC could be on the cards, a source close to the chief minister said.
Gogoi met Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in Delhi and offered to step down, sources said and added his offer was “outrightly rejected”.
Former Union Minister B K Handique confirmed that Gogoi had been given more powers.
Party sources said allowing him to quit would have opened the floodgates of similar demands from MLAs in Congress-ruled states, Haryana and Maharashtra in particular, where Assembly elections are due this year.
“It is a fact that Gogoi wants to step down and there is massive discontent against him among MLAs. But allowing him to quit could trigger similar demands in Haryana and Maharashtra. It can open a Pandora’s box,” a senior Congress leader said.
Of the 48 seats in Maharashtra, Congress won two. “There is a feeling Prithviraj Chavan failed to provide a strong leadership and take everyone on board,” a senior leader aid.
In Haryana, where the Congress won only one seat, CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda is facing factionalism. “We don’t have a majority in Haryana. Our government’s survival is dependent on independents and many of them are loyal to Hooda. It is about the stability of the government,” a senior leader said.
Even as Gogoi was meeting Congress leaders in Delhi, one of his ministers Gautam Roy told the media in Guwahati that 45 legislators (out of 78) had “decided” to make Gogoi detractor and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma CM. ‘
After his meeting with Sonia, Gogoi met some loyalists, including ministers and MLAs.
Sources close to the CM said the Congress president authorised Gogoi to carry out a reshuffle in his ministry next month. Gogoi will complete three years in office in his third term next month.
“The Congress president has not accepted Gogoi’s resignation. Instead, she asked him to go for a reshuffle after the Congress government in the state observes its third year in office on June 1,” legislator Anjan Dutta said.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh also met Sonia. He made it clear he will not resign. “Nobody has asked me to quit,” he said.