Assam opposition leaders keen to join Congress, says Gogoi

Guwahati, Nov 16 ( Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Monday claimed several senior opposition party leaders and legislators were keen to join the ruling Congress party ahead of the 2011 assembly elections.

The chief minister said some leaders of the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF) were holding informal talks with Congress ministers and legislators in an effort to join the ruling party.

“I cannot take names but then many of them from the AGP, BJP and even the AUDF were keen to join the Congress. We are not in a position to commit them party tickets for the 2011 elections right now and hence have not decided on taking them into the party fold,” the chief minister told reporters.

Political equations ahead of the 2011 assembly elections in Assam are bound to change. Already there are murmurs with indications of realignment of forces.

“Yes, anything is possible in politics. But then we find that the people of Assam trust the Congress party than any other formations in the state,” Gogoi said.

The Congress has already gone into election mode with the chief minister chairing a cabinet meeting Monday to chalk out strategies to face the electorate.

“The thrust of the cabinet meeting was to make sure all the ministers speed up and accelerate the pace of development in the next 15 to 18 months,” Gogoi said.

The Congress won the assembly elections in 2001, then again in 2006, besides convincingly winning the local council elections last year and more recently the two by-elections.

“We are going for a hat-trick and hope to win the 2011 elections convincingly,” Gogoi said.

At a time when the chief minister exuded confidence, the morale of the AGP is at its lowest with internal bickerings and demands for leadership change getting strident.

“The AGP is down and out. We don’t even think of them as a force,” the chief minister said.