NEW DELHI, July 6 � The State Congress leaders were at draggers drawn at the meeting of the AK Antony Committee, with rival factions taking pot-shots at each other for the Lok Sabha poll debacle.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi�s group called for an inquiry into the role of the dissident group.
�There has to be an inquiry into the role played by the rebels and the guilty should be identified and disciplinary action taken,� former union minister and senior Congress leader Bijoy Krishna Handique reportedly demanded, sources said.
At least 14 Congressmen, including the Chief Minister and PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita appeared before the Antony Committee assigned to go into the party�s poll debacle and submit a report. While Chief Minister Gogoi and PCC chief Kalita took the brunt of the attack, questions were also raised about the role of the rebels.
Those invited included a few defeated candidates including Paban Singh Ghatowar, Kirip Chaliha, Manas Borah, besides Handique. A few ministers, senior MLAs including Himanta Biswa Sarma, Rockybul Hussain, Anjan Dutta, besides the three sitting Lok Sabha MPs, the heads of all frontal organisations were invited to make their submission regarding the party�s performance.
The Chief Minister was the first to appear before the committee, that also included Mukul Wasnik and Avinash Pandey. Gogoi was followed by other leaders.
The meeting, held at the party�s �War Room� at 15 Gurduwara Rakabganj Road, lasted for about four hours.
Emerging from the meeting, leaders told waiting newsmen that they analysed the party�s poor performance before the high-powered committee. The PCC president held the price rise and communal and political issues, besides the Modi wave responsible for the defeat of the Congress in Assam.
Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he did not focus much on the party�s performance, but spoke about the strategy that the party should adopt to fight the 2016 Assembly polls.
According to sources, Ghatowar in his submission said that the BJP�s media campaign was way ahead of the Congress party�s, and failure of the Tarun Gogoi Government to publicise its welfare schemes among the people and rampant corruption at the grassroots level were some of the reasons for the party�s poor performance. The State Government�s anti-incumbency factor was double than that of the Central Government, he was quoted as having said.
Significantly, a group of Congressmen blamed the rebels for ensuring the defeat of some of the candidates. �The Modi factor was negligible in Assam, it was the State BJP that exploited the situation by raking up local issues and also the issue of the Congress rebels, which ruined us,� said a Congress leader.
Some others alleged that �syndicates� were used to pump in money to defeat the Congress candidates. A senior leader held that arrogance and corruption of ministers and failure of the Chief Minister to check them resulted in negative reactions among the people, who opted to vote for the BJP.
But some of the Congress leaders focused on the current turmoil in the party and urged the party�s central leadership to intervene and end the crisis immediately. In the current situation, the Congress party cannot hope to win the next Assembly polls, Handique said.
Handique said that there were two reasons for the debacle � one was the Modi wave at the national level and the other was local issues, including the role of the dissident group.
According to sources, Kirip Chaliha blamed the PCC president for his defeat, asserting that the BJP got 62,000 votes in his constituency, leaving him high and dry. He charged that false allegations were made against him and the coal mafia was used to ensure his defeat. He further alleged that district presidents were warned not to campaign for him from Rajiv Bhavan.
Chaliha also reportedly opined that failure of the party to sever all links with the AIUDF resulted in division of the minority votes.
Anjan Dutta in his submission, reportedly focused on the organisational aspect of the polls, blaming indiscipline in the party and irresponsible statements made by some ministers in the run-up to the polls, as prime reasons for the debacle. Besides, some of the dissident leaders went against the party�s interests, he told the committee, sources said.