This Article is From Aug 24, 2015

Assam Congress Leader Himanta Biswa Sarma Meets Amit Shah, Will Join BJP Soon

Former Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

New Delhi: Rebel Congress leader from Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma met BJP chief Amit Shah in New Delhi on Sunday and said he would be joining the party soon. Mr Sarma also alleged that Congress doesn't believe in internal democracy.

"Rahul Gandhi talks of internal democracy. Madam Sonia Gandhi sent an observer and 52 MLAs supported me. Mr Tarun Gogoi had the backing of only 11 or 12 MLAs. But Rahul Gandhi told me that it's his prerogative to make the chief minister," said Mr Sarma, who is expected to formally join the BJP in the next few days.

Mr Sarma, who is seen as one of the main architects of Congress' repeated wins in Assam, was backed by his supporters to take over as the chief minister but the move reportedly didn't find favour with Congress high command.

Last year, Mr Sarma had led an unsuccessful rebellion against Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi after the Congress won only three of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

The BJP had won half of Assam's Lok Sabha seats and is now seen as the main challenger to the Congress in next year's assembly elections. Apart from hoping to strengthen the party organization, the BJP also wants to have more "winnable candidates" cross over from the Congress.

Indicating that more people from the Congress are likely to switch sides, Mr Sarma told NDTV, "It's up to the BJP to decide whether they want to have 52 MLAs or just one."

A senior Congress leader, however told NDTV, that Mr Sarma was "under pressure" to join the BJP as his role in the multi-crore Saradha scam is being investigated by the BJP.

Mr Sarma was one of the several key politicians from the state who had been named by the Saradha chief Sudipta Sen as being involved in the scam. "I have already been given a clean chit by the CBI and they have informed the Calcutta High Court," said Mr Sarma responding to these charges.