After Himachal, Congress Jolted In Assam As Working President Quits, May Join BJP

Sources said Rana Goswami is in Delhi, where he is likely to meet BJP President JP Nadda and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The Congress has asked Mr Goswami to state his reasons for leaving.


Delivering another jolt to the Congress after the exit of leaders like former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and former MP Milind Deora, the party's Assam working president has quit and is likely to join the BJP.

Rana Goswami, a former MLA from Jorhat, announced his resignation in a letter to Congress General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal on Wednesday. He wrote, "I beg to state that I am tendering my resignation as the working President of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee and as an active member of Indian National Congress."

Sources said Mr Goswami is now in New Delhi where he is likely to meet BJP President JP Nadda and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. The party's core group from Assam and the national leadership are meeting in the capital to decide on candidates for the Lok Sabha elections from the state and to take a call on how many seats should be left for its allies.

Mr Goswami was at the forefront of making preparations for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Assam and had been questioned by the police a few days ago after a case was filed over deviating from the route for the march. On Sunday, however, the former MLA had quit as the organisational in-charge in Upper Assam citing "various political reasons".

Earlier this month, another Congress working president, Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, had resigned and extended his support to the BJP government in the state. He was joined by fellow Congress MLA Basanta Das. Excluding them, the Congress now has only 23 MLAs in the 126-member Assembly.

Mr Goswami's exit will add to the Congress's troubles ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The party faced a shock defeat in the Rajya Sabha poll on Tuesday and is now grappling with the possibility of its government being toppled in Himachal Pradesh, the only state in north India where it is in power. 

Assam sends 14 MPs to the Lok Sabha and the BJP had won nine seats in 2019. 

'State Reasons'

Reacting to Mr Goswami's resignation, Congress MLA and Leader of the Opposition in Assam, Debabrata Saikia, said, "Rana Goswami was a very senior leader. He rose in the party from the grassroots. He was a two-time MLA and also worked at the national level. I think the Congress has given him whatever it could as a dedicated party worker. He must have been dissatisfied or there may be some other things, which we don't know, that compelled him to leave a party he has served for so long."

"My appeal to him is to state the reasons for leaving the party. If he tells us, we can act on his grievances and the party can grow. Opposition is a must in Indian democracy and we cannot allow an opposition-free India," Mr Saikia added.

On Mr Purkayastha's support for the BJP, Mr Saikia claimed he was harassed by the vigilance department during the Durga Puja festival last year. "He was under severe pressure and was compelled to go to the BJP. Kamalakhya resigned as he could not withstand the assault of the Enforcement Directorate and other agencies in bogus cases."

'Will Welcome Him'

When Mr Sarma was asked on Tuesday about the possibility of Mr Goswami joining the BJP, the chief minister had denied having any such information, but said,  "He is a powerful leader of the Congress and if he joins the BJP, I will welcome it."

Hinting that several other Congress MLAs could join his party, Mr Sarma was quoted as saying by news agency PTI that only a few Muslim MLAs would remain in the Assam Congress by the time the next Assembly elections are held in the state in 2026.