Taking moral responsibility for the Congress’s dismal performance in Assam, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi appeared set to resign on Thursday, even as his Himachal Pradesh counterpart Virbhadra Singh refused to step down, asserting that his party’s rout in the state was not his defeat as a CM.
The Congress managed to bag only three of the 14 seats in Assam in the Lok Sabha elections, while in Himachal Pradesh, it drew a blank. The four losing Congress candidates in Himachal Pradesh included Singh’s wife Pratibha who contested from Mandi.
Buckling under the pressure from dissidents, who wrote to Sonia Gandhi seeking to sack Gogoi, the incumbent Chief Minister, already in New Delhi, has sought an appointment with the Congress president to submit his resignation. “If I get it tomorrow, I will submit my resignation to her,” he said.
Dissidence in the Assam Congress has reached a flashpoint with 46 of the party’s 78 legislators, including a couple of ministers, in a joint petition asking Sonia to drop Gogoi. “The leadership has already accepted responsibility for the party’s (poor) performance in the election. Now, we seek a change in the situation,” said Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is said to be leading the dissidence.
Both the Congress president and vice president Rahul Gandhi had offered to resign, but the Congress Working Committee unanimously rejected their offer. Against that backdrop, it is to be seen whether the party would accept the offer by Gogoi. Assam PCC chief Bhubaneswar Kalita, however, has decided against quitting his post.
Asked why he did not submit his resignation to the Governor, Gogoi said the tradition in the Congress was to submit the resignation letter to the party President. Meanwhile, a group of ministers from Assam on Wednesday rushed to New Delhi and met AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi on behalf of Gogoi. The dissidents on their part is said to be in touch with Ahmed Patel.
The Himachal Pradesh CM, who was also in the capital, however, said he has no intention of stepping down. “It is a defeat of the party and not the Chief Minister. Why should I resign? I do not think it is a moral responsibility to resign because issues involved were beyond my control,” he told reporters.