Guwahati: Plagued with dissidence, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday ticked off a minister for demanding change of leadership.
Showing no signs of yielding, the minister shot back, saying a dharna could be held outside Rahul Gandhi`s residence in Delhi if there was no change in the top rungs.
"If necessary, I will take strong action against him," Gogoi told reporters here referring to Siddeque Ahmed, the Co-operation and Border Areas Development minister.
"We have said that we will accept whatever the high command decides and it may be in their (dissidents) favour or may be against them. But they are saying that it should be only in their favour. How can this be possible?" Gogoi asked.
The minister, in a swift reaction, said that dissident MLAs might take a step like holding a dharna before the Congress vice president`s residence in Delhi or boycotting the forthcoming Assembly session, while reiterating his decision for a leadership change.
"Our main demand is leadership change. We have informed the party high command about this and that we are in the majority. We will accept whatever decision the high command takes. But we will not accept Gogoi`s leadership at any cost," Ahmed told a news agency.
"At present, there is no governance in the state. Nobody in my own department listens to me. Central assistance is being cut gradually due to non-performance. If this situation continues, we will not be able to form the government in 2016 state elections," Ahmed claimed.
Ahmed, however, said that no decision has been taken yet on the next move by the dissidents.
The Chief Minister, who has publicly admitted that dissidence in Congress led to the party`s drubbing in Lok Sabha polls, claimed that Ahmed did not have a Congress background and had helped the opposition AIUDF during the Lok Sabha elections.
"A Congressman does not speak like this. No Congressman has the right to question the high command. Ahmed has supported AIUDF," the Chief Minister alleged.
Denying the allegation, the minister said, "Let him prove that I helped AIUDF. Whenever I spoke the truth, Gogoi sent me sometimes to the BJP and sometimes to the AIUDF."
Last month, the Congress high command had sent senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Ashish Kulkarni to meet Gogoi and his ministers, MLAs and MPs and give a report on the dissidence issue.
The anti-Gogoi camp led by Education and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma with reported support of 55 MLAs, has openly demanded change in the Congress Legislature Party leadership.
In the 126-member Assembly, Congress has 77 MLAs. The party needs 64 members to sustain.