NEW DELHI, Sept 20 � A nervous State Congress leadership has ordered a halt to signature campaigns to elect the new PCC president, after AICC got wind of the move engineered by two rival factions.
The Assam Congress Party, last week may have passed a resolution authorising AICC president Sonia Gandhi to nominate the new president of the State unit, in keeping with the resolution passed by AICC. But subsequent developments in the ruling party has led to confusion within the rank and file, said sources.
According to a senior Congress leader, a section of ministers started a signature campaign supporting State Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman�s candidature. This led the rival faction belonging to the outgoing president and Rajya Sabha MP, Bhubaneswar Kalita�s, supporters to initiate a similar campaign.
Even as the campaign was going on, words reached New Delhi and directions went to put an end to the campaigns. However, the development has revealed that hectic behind-the-scene lobbying is on. It has also become clear that the rift between Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Kalita is now out in the open.
When contacted, PRO of the Congress Subash Chopra feigned ignorance but quickly added that it was wrong on the part of the members to run a signature campaign. Once a unanimous resolution is passed, it is wrong to indulge in such campaigns.
�How can they carry on a signature campaign when the general body of the party has passed a resolution authorising Congress president Sonia Gandhi to select the new president,� he wondered.
�No partymen should do it,� he remarked.
When asked about the latest position vis-�-vis selection of a new president, he said that he has passed all information to the AICC and it is now up to the party high command to decide.
Meanwhile, when contacted Bhubaneswar Kalita while confirming that there was a move, said that he has passed instructions to his partymen to immediately stop such campaign. �Upon learning about the development, I have issued instructions to stop it forthwith,� he said.
�Not only that I have convened a meeting of the newly elected PCC members tomorrow at Guwahati to order them to desist from indulging in such acts in the future and to convey the message further down the line,� he said.
The latest incident has again brought to the focus the widening differences between Kalita and Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi.
Sources in Gogoi�s camp said the Chief Minister is upset over the manner in which a consensus was sought to be evolved by Kalita�s camp in his favour. They refer to the September 11 meeting when newly elected PCC members passed a resolution nominating Kalita�s name. The same day another meeting was convened when elected MPs, ex-MPs and senior office-bearers passed resolution authorising the Congress president to select the PCC chief.
The differences between the two saw three candidates including State ministers Dr Bhumidhar Barman, Akon Bora and ex-MP Kirip Chaliha filing nominations, which were later withdrawn.