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Pranab, Digvijay to guide Assam legislators in government formation

Sushanta Talukdar

GUWAHATI: Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and All-India Congress Committee in-charge of Assam affairs Digvijay Singh are scheduled to arrive here on Sunday to guide the newly elected Congress candidates in the process of forming the next government.

Congress sources said Mr. Mukherjee and Mr. Singh would meet the new Congress representatives individually to seek their opinion on the election of the new Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader.

After obtaining individual opinion, a meeting of all the 78 elected Congress representatives might be convened either on Sunday night or Monday morning to formally elect the new leader.

Before the representatives meet Mr. Mukherjee and Mr. Singh, the Cabinet will meet briefly at 5 p.m. to complete the formalities of resigning, along with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi calling on Governor J.B. Patnaik to hand over the Cabinet resolution and to request him to start the process of constituting the new Assembly.

Mr. Gogoi told journalists that the new Assembly is required to be formed by May 19 at the latest.

Although Congress sources said the election of Mr. Gogoi as the new CLP leader would be a mere formality to facilitate him to take oath as Chief Minister for the third consecutive term, Mr. Gogoi has been maintaining that the new CLP leader would be elected by the Congress candidates in consultation with the party high command.

The Congress won 78 of the total 126 seats, 14 seats more than the magic number of 64. However, Mr. Gogoi announced that although the Congress was in a position to form its own government, the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) would continue to be its ally and he favoured their participation in the government.

The BPF won 12 seats, one seat more than in 2006.

The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), in a statement emailed to media houses, congratulated the Tarun Gogoi-led ruling Congress for its victory in the Assembly polls.

In his statement, ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa described the poll outcome as a mass verdict in expectation of a peaceful political resolution of the “India-Assam conflict.”

In another development, the president of the Opposition party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Chandra Mohan Patowary, has resigned from his post owning moral responsibility for the poll debacle, party insiders said.

Mr. Patowary has forwarded his resignation to AGP working president Phani Bhusan Chouhdury.

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