Cong unlikely to replace Assam CM

Party leaders slam Gogoi for failing to visit Kokrajhar soon after violence broke out

Cong unlikely to replace Assam CM

Although embarassed by mishandling of violence by the Assam government, the Congress high command is unlikely to replace Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

While the outcry against Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is growing both within and outside the Congress, the party is unlikely to take action against its leader, who was instrumental in bringing the party to power for the third straight time only last year.
Even Gogoi may not have thought that just over a year after his dream victory there would be call for his head.

No one has publicly demanded his resignation so far within the party. While the Congress core committee, headed by party president Sonia Gandhi last week took stock of the Bodo-Muslim clashes, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh publicly asked him to “take stern action” to deal with the situation.

That the prime minister had to instruct the chief minister to take action indicates the extent of inaction by the state government. On Thursday, a group of Muslim MPs, including those from the Congress, met home minister P Chidambaram. “We have lost confidence in the state government’s ability to control violence and demanded central intervention,” Congress MP K Rahman Khan said after meeting.

Gogoi’s failure to visit the area immediately after the violence broke out has been criticised by many within the Congress. His detractors may take advantage of the Centre’s remarks to demand his ouster. However, Gogoi has his supporters in the party too. Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, party general secretary in-charge of Assam, is one of them.

Expressing full faith in Gogoi, Singh said on Thursday that “He (Gogoi) is an experienced man and extremely sensitive person” and that he can handle the issue.
Singh also rejected any parallel between the ethnic violence in Kokrajhar and neighbouring districts of Assam and the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat alleging that Chief Minister Narendra Modi had given a free hand to the administration to allow communal riots.

“Communal riots took place in Gujarat under the nose of the Chief Minister in cities like Ahmedabad. In Assam, it was in rural areas where the administration had difficulty in reaching due to the rains this time,” Singh said.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi, when asked about Gogoi blaming the Centre for delay sending the Army to control ethnic clashes, said: “The Central government extends full support in such situations and the Prime Minister is going to visit the state on Saturday to take stock of the situation and every possible help will be given.”

No food, water in refugee camps

People rendered homeless by the violence have complained about the lack of sufficient food, drinking water and medicines in relief camps, a charge which the authorities denied quickly, reports PTI from Dhubri and Kokrajhar.

A two-year-old child and a 60-year-old man died in two relief camps in Bilasipara in Dhubri district, but the cause of death was yet to be ascertained, official sources said.

“The condition in most relief camps is pathetic with food and drinking water in short supply. We fear there will be more deaths in the days to come due to disease,” Bilasipara resident Monowar Hussain said.

Of the 3 lakh people who have fled their homes, 1,53,000 refugees have been housed in 118 camps in Dhubri district alone, with the allegation against the district administration being that insufficient quantity of food was provided.

Abdul Rashid from Dhubri alleged that there was shortage of medicines and there were very few doctors which was causing problems for those who were falling ill in camps.

Dhubri Deputy Commissioner Kumud Kalita denied the allegations and said that sufficient food was being provided.

“There is no shortage of medicine either,” he added.

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