Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP leader and the new Chief Minister of Assam, has stated in an interview to Indian Express that he is grateful to Congress prince Rahul Gandhi for ignoring him and shunting him out of the Congress party, an insult that eventually led him to leave Congress and become the Chief Minister of Assam.
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”.
The Chief Minister of Assam remembered the infamous meeting of his with Rahul Gandhi, in which the Gandhi-scion was busy playing with his pet dog ‘Pidi’.
In the run-up to the 2016 Assam assembly polls, Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was still in the Congress party, had met Rahul Gandhi to discuss Assam’s problems.
However, the Congress VP was busy playing with his canine friend and had paid no attention to regional leaders from the North-Eastern state. After waiting for long in vain, an affronted Himanta Biswa Sarma had left the party and joined BJP, helping the party come to power in Assam.
Congress leaders were habituated to being insulted and ignored by Rahul Gandhi: Sarma
Remembering the meeting, Himanta Biswa Sharma also revealed how Congress leaders were habituated to such humiliations meted out to them by the Gandhi-Parivar.
Narrating another incident from the same meeting, Sarma revealed that the Congress leaders feared Gandhi so much that they ate biscuits from the same plate that had served biscuits to Rahul Gandhi’s dog ‘Pidi’. Sarma noted that several Congress leaders, including former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi, had visited Rahul Gandhi to apprise him of the political developments in the state.
However, Rahul Gandhi was busy playing with his canine friend ‘Pidi’ and ignored the state leaders. Biscuits from the same plate were given to the dog and were presented to the visiting congress leaders, said Sarma.
Remembering the incident, Sarma said to Indian Express that, “We were served with tea and biscuit, the dog went up to the table and picked up one biscuit from the table. Rahul looked at me and smiled at me. I was thinking why he is smiling, I was waiting for Rahul Gandhi to press the calling bell and ask someone to change the plate.”
Shockingly, Tarun Gogoi and other Congress leaders took the biscuit from the same plate, said Rahul Gandhi.
“After some time, I saw Congress leaders Joshi, Gogoi all taking the biscuits from the same plate and started eating. I was not a frequent visitor, and then I realised that this is normal for everybody as it happens in every meeting. That day I decided that enough is enough and decided that I cannot stay with that person (Rahul Gandhi),” added Himanta Biswa Sarma, narrating the experience from the infamous meeting.
Second meeting with Rahul Gandhi
According to Sarma, the infamous meeting with Rahul Gandhi was not a standalone event that highlighted the apathy of the Gandhis. He said that the meeting was a culmination of several meetings that were held for over a year in the run-up to the 2016 Assam elections. The former Congress leader said that he had held several meetings with Sonia Gandhi, who was then the President of the party, Ahmed Patel and other Congress leaders.
Himanta Biswa Sharma said that he resigned after the ‘Pidi’ episode and met Sonia Gandhi, who asked him to meet Rahul Gandhi one more time. So, upon her request, Sarma met Rahul Gandhi once again at Tughlaq Road residence. Sarma said that he did not speak about the meeting in public as 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 noted.
PM Modi advised me to introduce a concept like the ‘Zero Hour’ in the cabinet to listen to internal criticism
In his interview, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had advised him to introduce a concept like the ‘Zero Hour’ during the cabinet meetings to know the negative feedback about the government.
“In the Cabinet, ministers will compile all the negative feedback (collected from MLAs) and give it to a senior minister. Then I will join the Cabinet, and the senior minister will explain only the negative feedback about the government so that we can immediately take remedial action,” Sarma said.
The Assam Chief Minister Sarma said the Prime Minister had learnt this from his experience as the Chief Minister in Gujarat.
“Modiji said he did it in Gujarat, so I should start that practice in Assam. He said, “Achcha bolne wala toh tumko bahut milega, lekin burai suno, tabhi you will be able to rectify”, he said.
“He listens to negative feedback, he rather encourages it,” Sarma pointed.
Himanta Sarma met Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday for the first time after taking oath as Assam’s Chief Minister.