NEW DELHI, Sept 5 - Weeks after Himanta Biswa Sarma walked out of the Congress party, nine of his close supporters � all MLAs � today met BJP national president Amit Shah and expressed their desire to join the saffron party.
In what could prove to be a double blow for the State Congress, Himanta Biswa Sarma told waiting newsmen that he has submitted another list of 10 MLAs, including a minister in the Tarun Gogoi Cabinet, besides a list of over 500 Congress party members who want to join the BJP.
Caught unawares for the second time, the Congress till yesterday was claiming that Sarma does not enjoy the support of more than four MLAs. The chief spokesman of the party, Ripun Bora yesterday told newsmen that Sarma was trying to bluff by inflating the number of his supporters.
The nine MLAs, all close supporters of Sarma, who met Shah included Pallav Lochan Das, Pijush Hazarika, Pradan Baruah, Kripanath Mallah, Abu Taher Bepari, Jayanta Mallah Baruah, Bolin Chetia, Binanda Saikia and Rajen Borthakur.
Sources said that Shah held a cordial, but brief discussion with the MLAs, who were accompanied by Sarma, at his 11 Akbar Road residence this morning before giving his green signal to admit the 500 grassroot Congress workers. He was also keen to admit the 10 MLAs, who are waiting in the wings to join the BJP, directing BJP State president Siddharth Bhattacharyya to take a quick decision, the sources added.
These 500 NSUI and Youth Congress workers would join the BJP in batches and the BJP national president has given his consent, the sources said.
The meeting at Shah�s house was also attended by Union ministers Anant Kumar and M Venkaiah Naidu, general secretary Ram Madhav, who is in charge of Assam, and Krishna Gopal. Unlike last time when Sarma met Amit Shah, the State BJP president did not accompany the delegation today.
Later, emerging from the meeting, Himanta Biswa Sarma told newsmen that all the MLAs met Shah and extended their support to the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The nine MLAs formally expressed their desire to join the BJP, he said, adding that the formal joining will take place in Guwahati at the time and place of Bhattacharyya�s choosing.
Sarma added that he has submitted another list of Congress MLAs to the State BJP president, who will take a decision about admitting them to the party. �The BJP leadership gave me the clearance to bring these MLAs to Delhi,� he said.
Asked if they were planning to bring down the State Government, Himanta replied that their intention is to make Gogoi face the election. He quickly added that he was not part of the strategy-making team and it is for the BJP leadership to take a call.
Himanta also clarified that he is resigning from his MLA membership in a day or two, in keeping with the direction of the BJP leadership.