CM and cabinet now walking, will run after the elections, says Himanta
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Jan 18: In a public show reminiscent of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi's appearance in a Delhi court in connection with the tiol Herald case recently, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today converted his appearance at a sessions court here - in connection with a defamation case - into a virtual padayatra and public outreach programme, which the opposition denounced as a "gimmick".
The stakes were high as the summon by the sessions court came following a defamation case filed against Gogoi by his once trusted lieutent and now BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma.
On way to the court, Gogoi disembarked from his convoy near Latasil field gate, where a large contingent of Congressmen, including ministers and senior party leaders had congregated. The CM then marched to the court from there along with other Congress leaders and ministers. Among those who participated in the procession were ministers Rakibul Hussain, Dr Bhumidhar Barman, Ajit Singh, Sarat Barkataky, Siddique Ahmed, Atuwa Munda, Bismita Gogoi, deputy Speaker Bhimanda Tanti, parliamentary secretary Rekibuddin Ahmed, APCC president Anjan Dutta and other leaders like Pradyut Bordoloi and Nilomonisen Deka.
The entire route from Latasil field gate to the sessions court was blocked for over one and half hour till the CM left the court premises.
While the procession drew flak from many quarters, especially because it caused undue inconvenience to commuters on the route, an unfazed Gogoi said it was a "show of solidarity".
"I respect the court and therefore I appeared. No one is above the law, not even the Chief Minister," Gogoi said.
Legal circles said that it was not mandatory for the CM to appear before the court in such type of summons. He could have sent a representative to appear on his behalf, which is written in the summon itself.
Petitioner's counsel Debojit Saikia sought an interim restraint order during today's hearing, but the court granted time till February 8 for Gogoi to file his objection.
Himanta Biswa Sarma had filed a defamation case after the CM, at a press conference in New Delhi, had alleged that the former minister was an accused in the Saradha Chit Fund and Louis Berger scams.
Sarma, while speaking to jourlists later today, sarcastically said it was a victory to "bring the CM and his entire cabinet to the street".
"I am fighting the case at a persol level. I have not involved my party. But I have been successful in bringing the CM and his cabinet to the streets. Now they are walking, after the elections they will have to run," he said.
BJP leader and lawyer Bijon Mahajan said, "If the CM does not appear in future hearings, we will be forced to think that today's act was nothing but a gimmick."