Gogoi to face trial of strength to end rebellion

GUWAHATI: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi will prove his strength in the Congress legislature party (CLP) to end the dissidence plaguing the party for two years now.

Rebel ministers and party MLAs have challenged Gogoi's leadership and renewed their demand for his ouster soon after the party's debacle in the Lok Sabha election.

"Gogoi, who will return from New Delhi on Thursday, will take the trial of strength either in the form of signatures by MLAs or face a special sitting of CLP," a source said. Both Gogoi loyalists and dissidents claim to have the numbers on their side even as the name of Tripura governor Devananda Konwar is doing the rounds as Gogoi's replacement.

AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday intervened to resolve the dissidence in the state. After two sessions of meetings on Tuesday, Gogoi met Rahul again in New Delhi on Wednesday. The chief minister's office said Gogoi will return from the national capital on Thursday.

"Rahul Gandhi has asked a three-member team to cooperate with the chief minister and help him restore stability in the party. But the chief minister wants a permanent solution with the high command's approval and has proposed to take the trust test. This could be done either by submitting signatures of MLAs from both the camps or by voice vote at the CLP meeting," a close aide of the chief minister said.

This new development was necessitated after a compromise formula devised by a three-member AICC team to end the crisis failed.

The chief minister's camp has already activated itself to gather the numbers even as the dissident group on Wednesday claimed that it has 52 members on its side. Congress has 78 MLAs in the assembly, including speaker Pranab Gogoi, and Gogoi would need the support of at least 39 of them to stamp his authority.