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Himanta crosses the Rubicon

Himanta crosses the Rubicon

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  24 Aug 2015 12:00 AM GMT

For the former Congress strongman, saffron is the right colour to be in

After meeting Amit Shah in New Delhi, Himanta pins faith on 'rendra Modiji's vibrant leadership' 'BJP sure to form next government in Assam,' says Jalukbari MLA, 10-14 Congress dissidents ready to join chorus

Our Bureau

Guwahati/New Delhi, Aug 23: Capping feverish speculations over past several months, Jalukbari legislator Himanta Biswa Sarma today virtually quit the Congress to join BJP, setting off an earthquake in the State's politics. This came about after Sarma met BJP president Amit Shah at his New Delhi residence today afternoon, and then emerging before waiting media-persons to announce his decision to join the saffron party.

The development, that stunned many in the State, is a precursor to a split in the State Congress unit, with over ten legislators reportedly preparing to join the saffron bandwagon along with Sarma. The former Congress strongman had spearheaded more than a two-year-long unsuccessful revolt against Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, at one time claiming the support of as many as 35-40 Congress MLAs.

Joi Congress MLA Pradan Barua has already sent a letter to the Chief Minister tendering his resigtion as a parliamentary secretary.

Sarma, flanked by State BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharjee, had a meeting with Amit Shah at his 11 Akbar Road residence on Sunday afternoon at about 5.30 pm. Lasting for an hour and 15 minutes, the meeting was also attended by BJP general secretaries Ram Madhav and Ram Lal.

"I along with Assam BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharjee met BJP tiol president Amit Shah. I expressed my willingness to work under the strong leadership of Prime Minister rendra Modi and tiol president Amit Shah and they have accepted it," Sarma told media-persons outside Shah's residence.

In his Facebook update, Sarma stated: "Following massive calls over the past months from people across Assam hailing from all communities, will be formally joining the BJP (Bharatiya Jata Party) for A Resurgent Assam and Northeast under the vibrant leadership of Prime Minister Shri rendra Modiji. Urging all of you here to join hands for a Resurgent Assam and Northeast."

Siddhartha Bhattacharjee said a function will be organized in Guwahati in a day or two where Sarma would formally join the party.

Sarma also hinted that 10 to 14 Congress legislators - mostly his known followers - would also be joining the BJP.

Changing his posture overnight, Sarma said, "It is almost sure that the BJP will form the next government in Assam. It has been evident for a long time."

Sarma, who has been representing the Jalukbari assembly constituency since 2001, was a key strategist of the Congress in Assam, playing a vital role in propelling the party to power in the State in the last three consecutive elections.

Since 2011 though, Sarma had been voicing dissent and demanding a change in the State leadership. He resigned from the Tarun Gogoi cabinet in July last year.

On July 8 last, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had a meeting with APCC president Anjan Dutta, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Himanta Biswa Sarma in an attempt to iron out the differences and unite the party.

Meanwhile, lbari MLA Jayanta Malla Barua said Himanta Biswa Sarma was ridiculed by party leaders and that he has taken the "right decision." "Even the Chief Minister had scorned Sarma. It is a big loss for the party. We too will take a decision on similar lines soon."

Another close aide of Sarma, Golokganj MLA Abu Taher Bepari said, "No one can take Himanta's place in the Congress. He was an asset. We feel sad he had to take such a decision. We will decide our course of action after consulting the people in our constituencies."

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