Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in an exclusive interview with the Indian Express recalled his infamous meetings with former and future Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who he said had played a pivotal role in making him the chief minister of Assam. The Chief Minister of Assam remembered the meeting of his with Rahul Gandhi, in which the Gandhi-scion was busy playing with his pet dog ‘Pidi’. It was prior to the 2016 Assam assembly polls that Sarma and other senior Congress leaders from the Northeast had called on Rahul Gandhi.
Speaking to Indian Express, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “I am grateful to Rahul Gandhi. I would not have become the Chief Minister of Assam and served the state, had he not shunted me out of the Congress party. So, if I am today in this position, that also because of its famous meeting and also because of the fact that Rahul Gandhi did not appreciate I being in the Congress party”.
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Himanta Biswa Sarma also made a rather shocking allegation and claimed that senior Congress leaders, including the late Tarun Gogoi, were consuming biscuits from the same plate with which Rahul was feeding his dog – Pidi. “But during the meeting, I have seen that Rahul is not very interested in the meeting from the very beginning. He was playing with the dog…anyway, at some point of time, we were served with tea and biscuits, the dog went up to the table and pick up one biscuit from the plate, So Rahul looked at me and started smiling and so I was thinking that why is he smiling, I waited with my cup thinking that Rahul will push the calling bell and ask someone change the plate,” the chief minister of Assam said.
Then, Sarma realised that such practices were in fact a normal between pusillanimous Congress leaders and the Gandhi family. While thanking Rahul Gandhi for his antics, Himanta said, “Had it not been he who has hunted me out literally from the Congress party, so if today I am in this position, that also because of that famous meeting and also the that Rahul did not appreciate the fact, I being in the party.”
Recalling another meeting he held with Rahul upon the insistence of Sonia Gandhi, the Assam chief minister remarked that it was “very, very disgusting.” “If I raised some issue in the meeting, Rahul Gandhi would say, ‘So what?’ His typical answer for every statement was the same. I was there for 20 minutes with him, and I heard the word ‘So what?’ more than 50 times. It is a feudal culture,” Sarma said.
The meetings had proven to be the last straw for Sarma, subsequent to which he left the party to join the BJP – scoring two consecutive victories for the saffron party in Assam, and playing a pivotal role in the party’s rise in what was considered an impenetrable region for the BJP until 2016.