Rift Between Assam BJP MLA, CM Himanta Widens

    A tweet by Assam BJP MLA Mrinal Saikia has brought the apparent rift between Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and the “old guard”. While the “new” vs “old” debate has been part of the political discourse of Assam since Himanta Biswa Sarma took over as the Chief Minister of the state barely 5 years after joining the BJP, the “rift” has gained steam recently. Even Himanta’s Cabinet ministers have made statements, which are widely seen as against the “old guard”.

    Now, Mrinal Saikia, a Khumtai MLA for two terms, has stirred up a fresh row by congratulating Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi, who won from the Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency. Gaurav Gogoi, who was an MP from the Kaliabor constituency, had to contest the Jorhat seat due to the delimitation exercise of 2022.

    Mrinal Saikia in his tweet said: “Special congratulations to @GauravGogoiAsm [Gaurav Gogi] for your amazing win. This result is very significant in Jorhatmany ways. The outcome proved that- Money,Big Publicity, Over Doses of Leaders and Arrogant Speeches does not always  help to win elections [sic].” The tweet was a veiled dig at Himanta Biswa Sarma, who had constantly attacked Gaurav Gogoi during the election campaigns, asserting that it would be impossible for the Congress leader to win the Lok Sabha election.

    Himanta loyalist and Jagiroad MLA Pijush Hazarika, who switched over from the Congress with Sarma in 2015, too, said that he would quit politics if Gaurav Gogoi won. Multiple videos of his speech and bytes to the media are now doing rounds of social media. “If [BJP candidate] Topon Gogoi loses and [Congress candidate] Gaurav Gogoi wins from Jorhat, I swear I shall quit politics,” he can be heard saying during an election speech.

    Sharing the clip, Sibsagar MLA and Raijor Dal chief Akhil Gogoi asked: “Is @Pijush_hazarika Dangoriya [sir] going to stand by his words? Hazarika Dangoriya [sir], now when would you take “Sanyaas” from politics?”

    Another clip showed Pijush Hazarika saying: “Gaurav will never win. I shall quit politics if Topon Gogoi loses. This is not my arrogance. I say this with all humility based on our internal calculations.”

    After Mrinal Saikia congratulated Gaurav Gogoi, CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said: “Mrinal Saikia did not congratulate Narendra Modi on his victory, but he congratulated a Congress winner [Gaurav Gogoi]… I feel he may not remain in the BJP for too long.” “He should have congratulated Narendra Modi first and then Kamakhya Prasad Tasha [Kaziranga seat winner]. Hence, it is my political reading that he will leave very soon,” Himanta added.

    Reacting to this, Mrinal Saikia shared a photo of BJP stalwarts former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Murli Manohar Joshi, and former Deputy PM Lal Krishna Advani, saying: “I joined BJP impressed by these great leaders, who taught us to respect others and give due respect to people irrespective of their political affiliation.I learned today from HCM @himantabiswa [Himanta Biswa Sarma] sir that, to congratulate someone from the opposition is a crime nowadays.”

    Earlier, Mrinal Saikia had hit out at another Himanta loyalist Jayanta Malla Barua, who had moved to the BJP from the Congress with Pijush Hazarika, saying: “Himanta Biswa Sarma should ask Barua to shut his mouth as his remarks have hurt the party thousands of votes.” Saikia remark was a reaction to Baruah criticising the old leaders of the BJP. Jayanta Malla Barua in a press conference had said that people may have been in the BJP for 50 years, but they had not contributed to the party. “Their contribution to the party and how much time they give to it will show their commitment,” Barua had said in a reference to the “old guard”.

    The BJP won 9 seats in Assam, while its allies the AGP and UPPL won 1 seat each in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. The Congress bagged the rest of the 3 seats.

    ALSO READ | Trouble Brews In Assam BJP As Rift Between Old And New Guards Emerges

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