* Hush-hush meet between Himanta Biswa Sarma and AGP leaders
* Tarun Gogoi & Anjan Dutta closeted with Rahul Gandhi in Delhi
* BJP president Amit Shah takes closed-door inputs from State unit
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, July 14: A series of separate closed-door meetings in the last 24 hours in the State has set tongues wagging over the possibility of new political equations emerging ahead of the 2016 assembly elections.
While Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and APCC president Anjan Dutta held a meeting with party vice president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi, former minister and dissident Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma was part of two meetings in Guwahati - one with AGP leaders last night and another today with his acolytes. At his first meeting last night, Sarma is learnt to have met some senior AGP leaders, including president Atul Bora and legislator Keshav Mahanta, at the residence of political alyst ni Gopal Mahanta.
Sources told The Sentinel that after being sidelined in the Congress, Himanta Biswa Sarma, along with at least 15 rebel Congress legislators have been making attempts to join the BJP. However, a strong lobby within the saffron party is opposed to it with some senior leaders like MP RP Sharma being quite vocal in asserting that the BJP cannot be a "refugee camp" or "dustbin" for rejected politicians. "If we are to fill up all vacancies by imported and rejected leaders, then where will our old party workers go?" questioned the Tezpur MP in a facebook post yesterday.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, sources said, is now floating a new idea of forming a regiol front which would later forge an alliance with the AIUDF and BPF. During the meeting yesterday, Sarma is learnt to have offered a proposal to the AGP leaders for a change in nomenclature of the regiol party and conveyed that he and about eighteen Congress MLAs would join the rechristened political outfit.
AGP too is keeping the option open, but sources said party leaders would discuss the pros and cons of the proposal intensively.
However, as of now, none of the rebel Congress MLAs will venture to quit their party as doing so at this juncture (more than six months left for the assembly elections) would invite the anti-defection law, leading to their expulsion and necessitating by-polls.
Though he did not divulge much about the unfolding events, Himanta Biswa Sarma, however indicated that he is not resigning from the party in the next two months. "During our meeting in New Delhi with Rahul Gandhi on July 8, some decisions were taken. If those decisions are not implemented, you will get some big news soon. But nothing is going to happen in the next two months," he told jourlists.
When asked, ni Gopal Mahanta said, "If Himanta Biswa Sarma quits the Congress, the AGP will be a better choice for him than the BJP. I took an initiative to mediate between him and the AGP leaders so that they can hold a discussion."
Some circles, however, say the maneuvers by Himanta Biswa Sarma could be part of a pressure tactic on either the BJP or the Congress.
Meanwhile, the situation arising out of the rebellion in the Congress was also discussed by visiting BJP tiol president Amit Shah during a closed-door meeting at a hotel in Guwahati today. The meeting was attended by party general secretary Ram Madhav, organizing secretary Ram Lal and State president Siddhartha Bhattacharjee. Sources said Shah will discuss the issue with Prime Minister rendra Modi.
In New Delhi, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi skirted a question from jourlists as to whether it was in his knowledge that some of his legislators were preparing to quit the party. "I have been hearing this in the media since the last two years. But nothing has happened so far. We will see when it happens," Gogoi said after his meeting with Rahul Gandhi.
Nothing much is known about the meeting at Gandhi's residence, but both Gogoi and Anjan Dutta said it was related to organizatiol matters and the strategy for the 2016 elections. In reply to another question, Gogoi said he would be contesting the forthcoming assembly elections.