A mini-earthquake of sorts has shaken up the Congress in Assam with a section of leaders once again venting their discontent in public. After e-mailing a long letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi spelling out his grievances, senior Congress leader Hiranya Bora tendered his resigtion from the party on Monday. Bora and another senior Congressman Bolin Kuli have targeted Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Anjan Dutta repeatedly in the past few days, derisively questioning his ability, his educatiol qualifications as well as political maturity to lead the party in an election year. It may yet be too early to speak of another round of dissidence wracking the Congress in Assam, but five senior leaders have been served with show-cause notices lately for criticising the APCC president before the media. It was after receiving this notice that former Dhekiajuli MLA and holder of senior APCC posts in the past, Hiranya Bora, went public with the allegation that the ruling Congress has been taken over by crimil syndicates. To rub it in, he has even announced intention to launch a new regiol party, and work actively to forge a broad regiol front involving different parties. The present rumblings of discontent within the Congress began with former East Guwahati MLA Chittaranjan Patowary, while another senior Congressman Diganta Kalita has also reportedly quit the party. It remains to be seen how well these Congress leaders will fare politically, if they strike out on their own.
With barely ten months remaining for the Assembly elections next year, any talk of forging a regiol or third front as an altertive to the Congress or the BJP must be backed up by a sound gameplan and active grassroots work. As of now, the disgruntled Congress leaders have only taken issue with Anjan Dutta’s leadership. But political observers know very well that as of now, it is Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who holds all the cards in the ruling Congress, not the APCC president. Anjan Dutta is occupying the hot seat at Gogoi’s pleasure, and it is no use castigating Dutta without holding Gogoi to account. Noticeably the present lot of disaffected Congress leaders have desisted from attacking Gogoi directly. This may have much to do with the manner Gogoi sidelined and neutralised the dissidents who posed a serious challenge to his authority in his third term. That the Chief Minister is still keeping four berths in his ministry vacant on the plea of not yet getting the green sigl from the party high command, may yet be a wily ploy to keep dissidents off balance. So the tactic of a section of senior Congressmen rebelling against the present APCC leadership while going soft on Tarun Gogoi will not fool the people. No talk of fighting for change through value-based politics will carry weight, unless these Congress leaders address the real issue of where Tarun Gogoi is leading the party. The drift and entrenched culture of corruption in Gogoi’s fourteen years at the helm has paralysed the administrative machinery and taken the State nowhere. Talking of syndicate raj now is all very well, but leaders and parties with a record of feeding off extortiote elements can hardly hold out any vision that the people can believe in.