DISSENT IN CONGRESS
Gautam-Siddique eyeing cabinet berths as CM gears up to expand ministry
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Sept 14: Rattled by the exodus from the Congress, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today appointed as many as 13 parliamentary secretaries - seven of them once part of the dissident group led by Himanta Biswa Sarma - in an apparent attempt to alleviate the disgruntlement within the ruling party ahead of the 2016 elections.
The 13 new parliamentary secretaries - Susanta Borgohain, Arun Phukan, Aroti Kachari, Monika Bora, Rupjyoti Kurmi, Ghashyam Kalita, Habul Chakraborty, Dr. Rumi th, Hemanta Talukdar, Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, Jamaluddin Ahmed, Sivsaran Basumatary and SR Subba - will be sworn in on September 16 at 11 AM.
Political alysts doubt if these new parliamentary secretaries will be able to contribute anything to the State's governce, with just six months to go before the Assembly polls. The existing parliamentary secretaries have already been complaining of not being assigned any work.
Currently, there are 11 parliamentary secretaries. Gogoi had appointed more than 20 parliamentary secretaries after assuming power in 2011.
These secretaries are entitled to a monthly salary of more than Rs 1 lakh, besides others perks like vehicles, PSOs and allowances.
Seven newly appointed parliamentary secretaries - Rupjyoti Kurmi, Habul Chakraborty, Hemanta Talukdar, Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, Rumi th, Jamaluddin Ahmed and Sivsaran Basumatary - had openly sided with HImanta BIswa Sarma when he led a revolt against Gogoi.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, who recently joined the BJP, has been claiming that he still enjoys the support of over 40 Congress legislators.
Gogoi is also likely to expand his cabinet by inducting at least two ministers. Former ministers Siddique Ahmed and Gautam Roy - another two legislators in the then Himanta Biswa camp - today claimed that the Chief Minister has called them up, promising berths in the cabinet.
Following Himanta Biswa Sarma's induction in the BJP, 10 legislators - nine from the Congress and one Independent - met BJP tiol president Amit Shah earlier this month and expressed their willingness to work under the BJP leadership.
Interestingly, the 13 legislators who were appointed parliamentary secretaries include Rumi th, one of the prime accused in an inter-state car theft racket, who is out on bail after being in judicial custody.
Former border area development minister Siddique Ahmed was dropped from the council of ministers last year along with irrigation and soil conservation minister Ardhendu Kumar Dey for their involvement in anti-party activities.
Gautam Roy, on the other hand, was dropped in January when Gogoi reshuffled his cabinet for the first time in 14 years.