Assam Cong MLAs Following ‘First Rebel’ Sashikanta Das? CM Sarma Says More Leaders to ‘Extend Support’ – News18

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma with Congress MLAs Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha and Basanta Das, addresses the media in Guwahati on February 14. (Image: PTI)

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma with Congress MLAs Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha and Basanta Das, addresses the media in Guwahati on February 14. (Image: PTI)

The ‘SASHI Model’, a new term creating a buzz in state politics, is being seen as a process of extending support to the ruling BJP without resigning from the Congress. Two years ago, Raha MLA Sashikanta Das was the first to make such a move

Soon after two Congress MLAs extended their support to the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government, a new term is creating a buzz in state politics – ‘SASHI Model’, in reference to the “rebellion” of Sashikanta Das two years ago.

This is being seen as a process of extending support to the ruling party without resigning from the Congress. Sashikanta Das, who is the Raha MLA, was the first to make such a move. Following this, on February 15, two Congress MLAs – one of whom was holding the post of executive president of the state unit – extended support to the BJP government in a surprising move. They met Sarma and expressed their willingness to join hands with the state government.

But, what exactly is the ‘SASHI Model’?

It can be said that Raha MLA Sashikanta Das was the first rebel in the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee, and was also suspended for repeatedly failing to maintain party discipline. Following in his footsteps, two years later, Kamalakya Dey Purkayastha and Basanta Das have also extended their support to the BJP government.

There are also reports that more Congress MLAs are in touch with the chief minister, including the Boko MLA who is willing to join the NDA constituent Asom Gana Parishad. Dudhnoi MLA Yadav Swargiary, South Abhayapuri MLA Pradip Sarkar, Chaygaon MLA Rekibuddin Ahmed and Batadrava MLA Shivamoni Bora are others who may follow the ‘SASHI Model’.

While the MLAs blamed the party leadership and its poor decision-making process for their rebellion, the state Congress blamed Sarma for the crisis. The grand old party has alleged that the CM had threatened the MLAs with “legal action” in corruption cases.

Replying to this, however, Sarma said: “I was closely involved with the Congress for 22 years; so, definitely the Congressmen are closer to me than Rahul Gandhi. Most of the Congress leaders in Assam are in regular touch with me. They are good friends of mine. I can say almost all of them wished to join the BJP, but it is a bit difficult for us. Every year, we are trying to accommodate them.”

He said there is no guarantee how long any Congress leader can be in that party. “Those who are most vocal against us on television (political talk shows), or in front of the media are also willing to join the BJP,” he said, referring to Purkayastha.

“Kamalakhya was our worst critic. He attacked us strongly, but today he is with us. God knows what is going on in the mind of APCC president Bhupen Bora or opposition leader Debabrat Saikia,” he added.

Congress forms ‘quick response team’

Now, the state Congress has announced the formation of a “quick response team” to sack outgoing party leaders. “An eight-member QRT (quick response team) has been formed, which consists of Bharat Chandra Narah, Pranati Fukan, Shivamani Bora, Navajyoti Talukdar, Deep Bayon, Mira Barthakur, Gopal Sharma and Abdul Aziz. They will consider the issues or reasons why a group of leaders are leaving the Congress,” Bhupen Bora recently said.

Reacting to this “revolt” in the state, the state Congress chief said: “Stern action will be taken against those who violate party norms.”

Not only BJP and Asom Gana Parishad, Congress leaders are also looking at other regional parties to join. Senior Congress leader Karimuddin Majumdar is reportedly ready to join the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). He apparently met the party chief and got confirmation about his joining.