GUWAHATI, July 21 � After repeated unsuccessful attempts at dislodging Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today quit the Cabinet, reasoning that �it was mentally, physically and politically not advisable� to work under the incumbent Chief Minister.
Tendering his resignation after nearly two years of protracted dissidence, Sarma, the leader of the dissident camp, asserted that his resignation was irrevocable and that he would not make a comeback in the Gogoi Ministry, no matter what might happen.
Sarma had around two years back offered to resign when dissidence first surfaced in the State Congress and later subsided with the intervention of the party leadership.
The minister, while charging Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi with resorting to caste-based politics, told media persons today that he, along with other dissident MLAs, would henceforth play the role of a �constructive Opposition� on the floor of the Assembly as well as outside.
Sarma also alleged that although Gogoi had promised to resign after the party�s poor performance in the last Lok Sabha polls, he later backtracked.
�We will raise our voice against all the anti-people policies and decisions of the Chief Minister,� Sarma said, immediately after submitting his papers to Governor JB Patnaik around noon during which he was accompanied by a team of around 27 dissident MLAs.
He, however, said that in case of a party whip, they would abide by it in and not defy the party leadership, thereby ruling out any threat to the Gogoi Government.
�We will, however, continue to press for the removal of Gogoi,� Sarma said, adding, �I am not harbouring any plans to become the Chief Minister. That phase is over.�
When asked, he said that he was not in the race for the post of Chief Minister and that both he and the Chief Minister needed to stay away from the race to ensure the better performance of the party in the ensuing Assembly polls.
On last night�s meeting with the Chief Minister, he said Gogoi had proposed to reshuffle the Ministry every four months, which was a ridiculous proposition. �I realised that utter madness has crept in.�
Sarma, who has been leading the dissident camp for the last couple of years, also said that under the impression that internal democracy existed in the party, �they had met the Congress top leadership to press for Gogoi�s removal in the greater interest of the party and subsequently, over 50 MLAs deposed before senior Congressman Mallikarjun Kharge against the Chief Minister but to no avail.�
He predicted that if a new Chief Minister was not appointed and given at least one-and-a-half year�s time, the Congress might suffer one of the worst ever debacles in the 2016 Assembly polls.
�Under Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, the Congress�s future is bleak,� he asserted.
Meanwhile, a few more ministers and parliamentary secretaries of the dissident camp might follow suit, although no official confirmation has been received.
The dissidents sat for another meeting at senior legislator Sarat Barkataky�s official residence to reportedly discuss their future course of action.