Guwahati: Even as the Congress party’s rule in Assam is set to enter the 12th consecutive year, the state is abuzz with rumours about succession struggle between two youth leaders and serving ministers in the Tarun Gogoi-led government.
According to senior Congress party sources here, the struggle to emerge as number two in the cabinet and seal the succession issue has intensified to such an extent that both the ministers organised major public events of their respective ministries at the same time on Friday and invited Gogoi to be the chief guest.
The 76-year-old Gogoi obliged both even as it meant that people in one of the programme were left waiting for his arrival and guests at the other place had his company only for around half an hour.
The youth leaders are Minister for Health, Family Welfare and Education Himanta Biswa Sarma and the Minister for Energy, Industry and Commerce Pradyut Bordoloi.
The Congress has been in power uninterruptedly since then and won the assembly polls for the their consecutive time in May 2011.
“It is basically a game of one-upmanship. Both are young, ambitious and also effective administrators but neither is willing to see the other emerge as a favourite and would love to see himself in the saddle,” a senior party leader said.
While Sarma could not be contacted for his comments, Bordoloi refuted any suggestions of discord. “All news about discord are mere speculation. All of us are united behind Gogoi and his leadership is undisputed and we will not allow any such plans (leadership change),” he told PTI.
Sarma and Bordoloi have been known to be rivals for a long time.
The situation took a sharp turn late last month after news spread that Sarma had met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and suggested Gogoi’s name as party nominee for the Vice President’s post after the term of incumbent Hamid Ansari expires in August.
Sarma, even while accepting that he had met Gandhi, refused the charge that he had suggested Gogoi’s candidature, so as to make his own way to the Chief Minister’s chair clear.
Meanwhile, Sarma loyalist and MLA Pijush Hazarika, who is also president of the Assam State Youth Congress, launched a tirade against Bordoloi and publicly termed his tenure as Energy minister as a failure.
Both Gogoi and Assam Pradesh Congress Committee chairman Bhubaneshwar Kalita rebuked Hazarika for his comments. (PTI)