New Delhi: Outgoing Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s Congress may have suffered an electoral defeat, but his former cabinet colleague Himanta Biswa Sarma, now with the BJP, says the new government will count on his advice. Sarma, the BJP poll strategist in Assam, on Thursday acknowledged Gogoi’s “experience” during a panel discussion on a TV channel.
Himanta Biswa Sarma “He has served the state for 15 years. The Congress has also done some good work. He has a lot of experience and we’ll count on his experience to run the state. We’ll take his advice,” Sarma said. However, Gogoi refused to comment, but congratulated Sarma on his poll victory.
Sarma left the Congress following conflict with the chief minister and joined the BJP in 2015. Meanwhile, Gogoi took the entire blame for the electoral reverse on himself. He refused to blame the party high command or vice president Rahul Gandhi. “I take full responsibility for the defeat. The strategies and the decisions were taken by us. Why should I blame Rahul Gandhi? Why should I blame one individual for the defeat? He didn’t interfere in any decision-making.
It was a collective decision of the party,” said Gogoi. Gogoi said despite Congress drubbing in four states, Rahul Gandhi was still his leader. “I accept him as our leader. Everybody in the party does. There are no two different opinions.” On promoting his son Gaurav Gogoi, the outgoing chief minister said:
“There is no blue blood in me. I am not promoting Gaurav. He is my son but I cannot make him a leader. He has become a leader on his own merit.” During the panel discussion, when Sarma said that top Congress leaders have forgotten leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri but were giving credit only to the Nehru family, Gogoi vehemently disagreed. He said:
This is incorrect. I pay respect to Mahatma Gandhi even today. This is not the truth.” Asked if Sarma’s presence could have helped the Congress win assembly elections in Assam, Gogoi said: “He was very much with us during the 2014 (general) elections. But we lost.”
Sarma retorted: “I humbly state that today, I have won in my constituency by a margin of 90,000 votes.”