From Maharashtra to Tripura, Congress bleeds as leaders exit or dissent - Firstpost
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From Maharashtra to Tripura, Congress bleeds as leaders exit or dissent

Believe in astrology or not, the stars are definitely not in favour of the Congress party of late. Even before the party could get over its shocking defeat in Assam Assembly polls leading to the end of its 15-year-old rule in the state, the Congress is facing trouble in another front, this time in Tripura.

Trouble within. AFP

After a series of electoral defeats, trouble is brewing for the Congress in Tripura. Representational image. AFP

Six Congress legislators on Tuesday joined the Trinamool Congress leaving the national party.

Assembly Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath told reporters that he had received a letter from Congress legislator Sudip Roy Barman, who he said was accompanied by three legislators.

"The letter was signed by six Congress MLAs informing me that they have joined the Trinamool Congress," Debnath said. "I would call all the six Congress MLAs for individual hearing and verification of their signature. After consulting the rules and experts, I will take a final decision in this regard in a day or two."

Trinamool Congress vice-president Mukul Roy came to Agartala on Tuesday, his second visit to the Left-ruled state in five days.

It is baffling that the Congress top brass is failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation despite getting red-flagged in different parts of the country from its own party leaders and cadres. The sense of dejection that has crept into the minds of the local cadres and regional leaders—who are actually the pillars of the party— can shake the very foundation of the party despite its illustrious past.

Things look shaky even in Meghalaya. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma's wife Dikkanchi D Shira lost the Tura Lok Sabha seat bypoll to National People's Party Conrad K Sangma. The bypoll in Tura happened as the seat fell vacant after the death of incumbent MP and former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A Sangma on 4 March.

Conrad, who won in 23 of the 24 Assembly segments, defeated Shira by a margin of 1,92,212 votes. The Congress candidate had got 1,37,285 votes.

Fearing a Arunachal Pradesh-like mutiny where Congress dissident Kalikho Pul became the chief minister of the state in February by toppling the Nabam Tuki government with outside support from the BJP, Mukul Sangma apparently wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice-President Rahul Gandhi warning against "black sheep" in the state unit who are apparently in touch with BJP leaders, an Indian Express report said.

The Meghalaya chief minister's apprehension is not unfounded as a whopping number of 18 rebel Congress MLAs helped Pul to wrest power from Tuki in Arunachal Pradesh.

The intent of the BJP to free the North East from Congress rule is unmissable. On 24 May, soon after Sarbananda Sonowal was sworn in as the first BJP chief minister of Assam and also in the region, the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) was formed to bring in all non-Congress parties of the region under one umbrella.

The new platform of the BJP was formed for development of all northeastern states, hours after Sarbananda Sonowal was sworn-in as the 14th chief minister of Assam. The alliance was formed at a meeting chaired by BJP President Amit Shah and attended by Sonowal and his Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Sikkim counterparts Kalikho Pul, TR Zeliang and PK Chamling respectively.

In an ominous message to the Congress, NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma had made it clear in an interview to Times Now, that the BJP is trying to make inroads into Manipur where the assembly election is due in 2017. What should worry the Congress more is that some of its leaders in Manipur are already in talks with the BJP.

The North East accounts for 25 Lok Sabha seats in total including Sikkim.

On Monday, veteran Congress leader Gurudas Kamat resigned from primary membership of the party and announced his retirement from politics. The resignation is a major setback to the grand old party in the key state of Maharashtra.

"For several months now, I have felt I need to take a backseat to enable others to get the opportunity. I met Hon Congress president about 10 days ago and expressed a desire to resign," Kamat said.

Kamat was known as a loyalist of the Gandhi family and his resignation was met with surprise in political circles, as per a report in Loksatta.

Last week, senior Congress leader and the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh Ajit Jogi had decided to form a new party in clear violation of Congress code of conduct.

"In the last 13 years, I haven’t been given any role by the party — not even at the block level — and I’ve been rendered an ordinary party worker. The party workers who are with me have not been given any responsibility, even at the booth level, so forget about a bigger role. I know it has been maneuvered by some people (read Congress leaders) in Delhi. They can’t tolerate regional satraps coming up, like it happened in the case of Mamata Banerjee, Jagan Reddy and Himanta Biswa Sarma. They want weak people and sycophants in the party," Jogi told Firstpost.

Although Uttarakhand Chief Minister Rawat could save his government, largely on technical grounds, he seems to be facing another round of dissension.

According to Hindustan Times, Rawat is facing dissent "with several leaders from the Garhwal region accusing him of ignoring them for positions in the government as well as the party."

What is unique in the pattern of dissent is that the instead of accommodating or giving them patient hearings, the Gandhis have chose to ignore the dissidents. Be it Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam or Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh, these leaders contributed significantly to the rise of the Congress in their respective states before.

The dissent mostly brews as one set of leaders get backing from the high command while those who raise their voice are simply sidelined. Be it Tarun Gogoi in Assam in the past or Mukul Sangma in Meghalaya, the party top brass should introspect how these regional leaders function as allegations of them being dictatorial could not just be mere coincidence.

With input from PTI

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