Former Assam Cong minister, 2 other MLAs join BJP

Former Assam Congress minister, 2 other MLAs join BJP ahead of Assembly polls

The rebel MLAs would further strengthen BJP and help it to achieve the target of 100 plus seats in the next Assembly elections

A former senior minister under Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam and two other former MLAs joined BJP on Tuesday, giving a jolt to the Opposition party ahead of Assembly elections slated in April-May next year.

Ajanta Neog, who served as PWD and social welfare minister under Gogoi ministry had challenged the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Supreme Court and was vocal against BJP during the anti-CAA agitation which turned violent in December last year.

Neog, who quit as MLA on December 25 joined BJP along with another Congress MLA Rajdeep Gowala at a function in Guwahati. 

Another former MLA of Bodoland People's Front (BPF), an ally of the BJP-led government in the state since 2016 also joined the saffron party. 

Neog's departure is seen as a setback to Congress as she is a strong leader in the eastern Assam district of Golaghat. Gowala, who was elected as Congress MLA in 2016 from Lakhipur constituency in Bengali-dominated Barak Valley also joined BJP in the presence of the ruling party's state unit president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Rajdeep's father was a veteran Congress leader and a former minister under Gogoi.

Neog said that she decided to quit Congress as her efforts to reach out to the high command for improving the party's affairs in the state were not given an ear.

"I wanted the party (Congress) to overcome the lobbying among leaders and emerge as a united party under one leadership. But since none in New Delhi gave me a chance to listen to the problems faced by the party, i decided to give up," she said. 

Neog was expelled from Congress last week following reports about her decision to join BJP.

Sarma, who is seen as BJP's main strategist in Assam said that Neog's joining would further strengthen the party and help it to achieve the target of 100 plus seats in the next Assembly elections. Assam has 126 Assembly seats.

The former BPF MLA, Bonendra Mushahary may also help BJP in western Assam's Dhubri district given the party's recent decision not to renew its alliance with BPF for the next Assembly elections.