Not surprised over Himanta's exit, says Congress

Not surprised over Himanta's exit, says Congress

The Congress is neither surprised nor shocked at the sudden decision of Assam strongman Himanta Biswa Sarma to join the BJP.

Senior leaders in the AICC believe that allegations against him in the Louis Berger payoffs case might be one of the crucial reasons for crossing over to the BJP.

Another Congress leader admitted that he was caught unawares with the sudden turn of events in Assam as Sarma had only last week campaigned hard to ensure the party’s victory in the Tiwa Autonomous Council elections.

“He was with us celebrating the victory and within 24 hours Sarma was meeting (BJP President) Amit Shah,” the leader said on condition of anonymity. Sarma had a running battle with one-time mentor Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, particularly after his son Gaurav joined politics. He had resigned from the government last year.

Congress leaders admit that in Sarma’s exit the party has lost an organiser par excellence as it was he who had played a crucial role in Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi government’s two successive electoral wins.

Interestingly, the BJP had named Sarma among the corrupt leaders of the Congress involved in the Louis Berger payoffs case. His name also figured in the booklets listing scams of Congress leaders that were distributed by the BJP among its party MPs during the monsoon session of Parliament.

Congress leaders feel that perhaps Sarma wanted to avoid meeting the fate of former Goa minister Churchill Alemao who has been jailed and finding it difficult to get bail. Assam goes to elections next year and BJP is desperate for a victory.

The Bodoland People’s Front and Badruddin Ajmal’s AUDF enjoy support on 40 of the 126 Assembly seats in the state. Congress had won 78 seats in April 2011 to form the government for the third consecutive term.

Congress leaders admit that Sarma is aware of the political geography of Assam and knows how to manoeuvre his way through. “In Congress, he had a free hand, but in the BJP he will have to serve many masters,” they argued, saying Sarma’s real test would be whether he would be able to deliver to the BJP what he did for the Congress.

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