Guwahati, June 19: A day after four-time Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi announced his plans to join the BJP, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday appealed to all opposition legislators to join the ruling party.
Sarma was replying to a question on Kurmi, the Congress' lone legislator from the tea tribe community, who quit the grand old party and resigned from the Assam Legislative Assembly. The MLA from Upper Assam's Mariani constituency had also announced that he would join the BJP on Monday in the presence of the Chief Minister.
"What will they do in the opposition benches for five years? I would rather say they should join us. Since we are working for the welfare of people irrespective of caste, creed and religion, I appeal to them (opposition members) to join us and work together for the public," the CM said. While leaving the party on Friday, Kurmi had attacked the Congress leadership, alleging that the organisation has become "very weak" as the leaders "do not listen to the voice of the grassroots workers". The assembly election results are a testimony of the fact as the party "failed in all the five states" where the polls were held in March and April, said the MLA from the tea tribe community which plays a decisive role in polls in Upper Assam.
"It appears that the party leadership is not willing to give an opportunity to people from the tea tribe or other marginalised communities but it is seen that people from a particular religious community are given prominence in the party," he said. Leader of Opposition in the assembly Debabrata Saikia has termed Kurmi's exit as a loss for the party. Another senior Congress leader Juri Sharma Bordoloi, who was the President of the Guwahati city district Congress and former national office-bearer of Mahila Congress, had also resigned from the party on Friday. Bordoloi claimed that more than 100 supporters have decided to leave the party with her.
There are speculations that a few more Congress leaders, including an MLA, will quit the party and join the BJP in the next few days. With Kurmi's resignation, the strength of the Congress in the 126-member Assam assembly has come down to 28. The BJP currently has 60 MLAs, while its allies AGP has nine and UPPL five.
The Congress, which was in power in Assam for three successive terms from 2001, has been in opposition since 2016 when the BJP-led coalition formed the government for the first time.