Cong leader Ajanta Neog expelled from party;expected to join BJP

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(Adding detail) Guwahati, Dec 25 (PTI) Assam Congress leader Ajanta Neog, a senior minister in late Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's all three governments, was on Friday expelled from the party for her alleged anti-party activities following which she resigned both as an MLA and all positions of the party.

Neog had recently met Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal triggering speculations that she would join the ruling BJP, following which she was asked by the state's party leadership to show cause why action should not be taken against her.

Speculations are rife that she would join the BJP during Union Home Minister Amit Shah's three-day visit to the North East beginning Friday night, but state minister and NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma said at a press conference here this evening that there was no such programme till now.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee's General Secretary (Organisation) Ranjan Bora said that Neog has been expelled from the 'primary membership of the Indian National Congress for her anti-party activity with immediate effect'.

AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal in a release issued from New Delhi said that the Congress President has approved the proposal of expulsion of Ajanta Neog, MLA, Assam from the primary membership of the party for indulging in anti-party activities, with immediate effect.

Neog, after her expulsion from the party, in a letter to APCC President Ripun Bora stated that she was resigning from all positions, including primary membership, of the Congress with immediate effect.

She further stated in the letter that she has also resigned as member of the Assam Legislative Assembly where she represented the Golaghat assembly constituency.

Assembly sources, however, were yet to confirm her resignation as an MLA.

Her snapping of ties with the Congress comes barely a month after death of Tarun Gogoi on November 23.

Neog, an MLA from Golaghat since 2001, was removed from the post of District Congress Committee President of Golaghat on December 18 after she met the Chief Minister along with North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma recently.

The former minister, who was a close confidante of the late former chief minister, had held the important portfolios of Social Welfare and Public Works departments during his tenure.

Sarma said that Neog's recent meeting with the chief minister in which he was also present was regarding the establishment of the Sati Sadhini University in her Golaghat constituency but it was given 'a political colour by the media, based on which the Congress expelled her from the party today'.

'Many legislators meet me in my office and it is unfortunate that her meeting with us where no political discussion was held was given a political colour', he said.

Following her expulsion from the Congress 'it is not unnatural that now if she expresses the desire to join the BJP, discussions will be held with her by the ruling party as she is a prominent leader of the state', the NEDA convenor said.

Sarma said that till the time of holding the press conference, there was no such development but if there was anything in this regard, the party will inform the media accordingly.

A BJP source claimed that she has written to the party's state President Ranjeet Dass expressing her desire to join the party but there was no official announcement from the party yet.

Sarma said that Lakhipur legislator Rajdeep Goala, who was also expelled from the Congress for six years in October this year for his 'anti-party activities', and independent legislator Bhuban Pegu are likely to meet the Union Home Minister on Saturday but their appointment was yet to be scheduled.

The election to the 126-member Assam Assembly is likely in March-April next year.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is currently the single largest party with 60 MLAs, while its allies the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People's Front (BPF) have 14 and 12 legislators respectively with the independent MLA also supporting the ruling coalition.

The opposition Congress has 22 MLAs at present, while the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has 14 members in the legislative assembly. PTI DG SNS SNS