Rahul’s yatra fails to stop leaders exiting Assam Congress | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Rahul’s yatra fails to stop leaders exiting Assam Congress

Jan 30, 2024 09:07 PM IST

With the 2024 Lok Sabha polls coming up, the eastern state ruled by the BJP-AGP-UPPL coalition is seeing a shift of loyalties from the opposition party

The Lok Sabha polls are due in a few months, and true to what usually happens every pre-poll season across India, Assam is witnessing a shifting of loyalties by politicians.

Guwahati, Jan 28 (ANI): Former Congress Leader Bismita Gogoi, former AASU President Dipanka Kumar Nath, former Assam Youth Congress President Angkita Dutta and others join Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of Assam BJP President Bhabesh Kalita, senior party leader Pijush Hazarika and other dignitaries, at the party State office, in Guwahati on Sunday. (ANI Photo) (Pitamber Newar) PREMIUM
Guwahati, Jan 28 (ANI): Former Congress Leader Bismita Gogoi, former AASU President Dipanka Kumar Nath, former Assam Youth Congress President Angkita Dutta and others join Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of Assam BJP President Bhabesh Kalita, senior party leader Pijush Hazarika and other dignitaries, at the party State office, in Guwahati on Sunday. (ANI Photo) (Pitamber Newar)

Significantly, the opposition Congress is at the losing end with many old-timers ditching the party and showing allegiance to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its coalition partner Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).

More importantly, Congress leaders are leaving immediately after the headline-grabbing Assam leg of the party’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi.

On Sunday, three days after Rahul’s yatra got over in Assam, several Congress workers and leaders including former Congress minister Bismita Gogoi and former president of the Assam unit of Indian Youth Congress (IYC) Angkita Dutta joined the BJP at an event held at the saffron party’s state headquarters in Guwahati.

While Bismita is the daughter-in-law of former Congress leader Jiba Kanta Gogoi and a former MLA from Khumtai, Dutta is the daughter of former Congress minister Anjan Dutta. A year ago, Dutta filed a case against IYC national president Srinivas BV stating in the police complaint that he had harassed her and discriminated against her. She was subsequently expelled from Congress for anti-party activities.

“The Congress has lost its ideology at present. The party’s only plan is how to resurrect Rahul Gandhi’s declining political fortunes. It was also disheartening that during the recent Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, Gandhi didn’t interact with me to give me justice about harassment I faced,” said Ankita Dutta at the event.

Bismita Gogoi said she felt disappointed that there were questions raised about her dress during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. She added that she faced mental harassment in the Congress and was not given any responsibility despite being a grassroots leader.

“Wherever Rahul will pass through, the Congress will get decimated in those places. He is very uninspiring, and arrogant and has no leadership qualities. In fact, he is BJP’s star campaigner,” Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma — himself a former Congressman — said.

BJP Assam unit president Bhabesh Kalita informed that more leaders from Congress will be joining the party in the coming days. He told HT that the new members have joined without any pre-condition, and they are unlikely to get party tickets for the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Commenting on the decision by several key leaders to quit the party, the president of the Assam unit of Congress, Bhupen Kumar Borah, said that the party was happy to get rid of people who are not committed to its ideals.

“Ankita Dutta was no longer a Congress member as she was expelled for six years on disciplinary grounds and Bismita Gogoi, who had lost two consecutive assembly elections, was inactive in the party since 2021. We are not bothered by their exit,” Borah said.

Congress leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia said that personal ambitions seemed to have taken precedence over ideology and that could have prompted leaders from the party to shift to BJP. He denied rumours of him quitting the party and going to the saffron camp.

On Monday, Apurba Bhattacharjee, a former general secretary of Congress’s state unit quit the party and joined AGP at Guwahati. Welcoming the leader, Assam agriculture minister and AGP president Atul Bora said that many more from the Grand Old PAarty are lining up to join hands with the regional party.

There are indications that both Kalita and Bora’s statements could be true. BJP leader and parliamentary affairs minister Pijush Hazarika said that several more Congress leaders will be joining the BJP on February 5. He didn’t disclose any names.

The switch of leaders from Congress to BJP in Assam isn’t new. Biswa Sarma quit Congress in 2015 along with several MLAs. Within months of the 2021 assembly polls, two Congress MLAs quit the party and joined BJP. They later got elected from the same seats on the saffron party’s tickets.

At present, the BJP has 62 MLAs in the 126-member assembly while the Congress has 27. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won 9 of the total 14 seats and Congress bagged just 3. And with bickering related to ticket distribution for the coming Lok Sabha polls already surfacing in Congress, the party’s numbers could slip further this time.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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