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Gogoi apprises Rahul on poll preparedness


NEW DELHI, Jan 21 - Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, accompanied by PCC president Anjan Dutta, this morning called on Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi at the latter�s Tughlak Lane residence and briefed him about the latest political scenario in Assam.

Later, talking to newsmen, the Chief Minister said Gandhi had asked for an update on the poll preparedness. �We apprised him about what we have done and what more needs to be carried out,� he pointed out.

�Rahul Gandhi asked us about the basis of our assessment that the Congress is going to win the election,� Gogoi said. He explained to Gandhi that while Congress is a tested party, the same cannot be said of the opposition. �The BJP is a mixed lot, while we are a cohesive party. The Congress has a background. But in the BJP, there are new leaders coming from various parties, including Congress and the AGP, and they have no ideological moorings,� Gogoi claimed.

�We also updated Gandhi on the steps taken to prepare the poll manifesto � what we want to include in it and how much progress we have made. These were the main issues that we discussed today,� said the Chief Minister.

�There was no discussion on alliance today. He didn�t ask anything. Some feelers have come though,� he conceded, adding that the State Congress would take a final call on this issue, he said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister appeared to have softened his stand on AIUDF, describing the Badruddin Ajmal-led party as less communal than the BJP. �The AIUDF is has some elements but the BJP is more communal,� he claimed.

About Ajmal�s latest offer, Gogoi commented that everyone thinks he is a kingmaker. �Till today, we have not finalised anything about having alliance with any party. I have said this earlier also that we can have an understanding. On electoral understanding, we have not finalised anything as yet,� he said.

�There is no question of having any alliance with AIUDF,� he stressed when asked to comment on the party that he had once dubbed as communal.

�We are less certain about the AGP. We have conveyed that the BJP should be checkmated,� he further said.

�We are also under no pressure from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar or Lalu Prasad to form a grand alliance,� Gogoi clarified.

Referring to the anti-incumbency factor, Gogoi admitted that it indeed is an issue, but argued that it becomes an issue only when a government fails. �We have not failed on any major front,� Gogoi claimed, adding that all records prove that his government has delivered. �We have proved that Assam has developed,� he claimed.

Asked about the selection of Congress candidates, Gogoi said winnability would be the main criterion. �We are not in favour of re-nominating those ministers and MLAs against whom there are corruption charges. We have to gauge the winnability factor. We have to examine these things,� he said, while hinting that sitting MLAs will be given preference.

Declining to comment about the post-election scenario, the Chief Minister said that nobody knows what will be the scenario post election. �We cannot comment on it right away. Our main rival is the BJP and it is a fact that the party has done injustice to Assam. We are not even getting what we had been receiving from the Centre,� he said, referring to the withdrawal of the Special State Status.

Taking a potshot at Union Minister and State BJP president Sarbananda Sonowal, he alleged that instead of talking about the vital issues concerning the State, he says the Central ministers have been visiting Assam. �It is only those ministers, who are of no use to us, who have been touring the State. Neither Home Minister Rajnath Singh nor Finance Minister Arun Jaitley bothers to visit Assam,� he claimed.

The Chief Minister charged that Sonowal has also failed to get funds for the State. �I had to intervene and request the Prime Minister to release the funds that had been sanctioned for the South Asian Games. This explains the state of affairs,� he observed.

Meanwhile, talking to newsmen, PCC president Anjan Dutta confirmed that there was no discussion on alliance. Asked about Ajmal�s latest statement, Dutta said the AIUDF chief�s mass appeal has decreased and that is why he has been making such remarks.

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