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Gogoi: an act of statesmanship

Written by: Staff
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Guwahati, May 14 (UNI) Even a week back, he was considered a political liability, ready to be sacrificed because he allowed his heart to rule his head refusing to appease Muslims, a complete no no in Asom politics that too before election.

The Congress both in Asom and in New Delhi had decided to ease him off for bringing more flexibility in the post poll scenario. But when the EVMs were opened, it was apparent that the single act of defiance gave him the most unexpected victory in the Asom Politics.

That is Tarun Gogoi, who has made name for talking from heart. His candid admission of his mistake had endeared him to the mainstream Assamese society more than the ''cooked success'' of others.

He was a lawyer but never a successful one because he had joined the Indira Gandhi faction of the Congress party. ''It was a difficult choice. There were virtually a few ones. All others we brought in, including Hiteswar Saikia came in after much persuasion by me'' he said.

Born on the April fool day in 1936, his honesty and simple lifestyle gave him the edge over his peers and today he has reached the threshold of statesmanship every politician aspires.

''I am controversial for my action. But if that helps people let it be. I do not mind'' he said while refusing to acknowledge the exaggerated demand of Muslim politics which led to the birth of the AUDF and cost Congress literally the government.

Mr Gogoi joined politics in 1968 when he was elected as a member of the Jorhat Municipal Board. During his student days, Gogoi's leadership qualities were evident when he held important positions in the students' union, including commandership of the Students' Voluntary Corps.

Soon he established his credentials as a youth leader and came under the notice of Indira Gandhi who entrusted him with the responsibility of organizing the youth of Assam in 1971.

Gogoi graduated to mainstream politics when he made his parliamentary debut in 1971 and between 1971 and 1991 he was elected four times to the Lok Sabha.

The internal squabbling of Congress kept him confined to New Delhi for most of his political career and nearly two decades he was there.

In 1976, he became the joint secretary of the AICC and became its general secretary in 1985.

Gogoi served as APCC president between 1986 and 1990.

Mr Gogoi was inducted into the Union Cabinet as a Minister of Food with independent charge during 1991-93 and was the Minister for Food Processing Industry (independent charge) during 1993-95. Gogoi made his electoral debut in state politics during 1996-98 when he was elected from Margherita, but he returned to the Lok Sabha in 1998 and again in 1999.

However before 2001 Assembly election he was brought back by the party to lead the party and result was stunning. The Congress got 71 seats and people of Asom found finally found a Congress leader acceptable.

His ministry did well but as he started sideline his peers while elevating the juniors, the anti Gogoi lobby started gathering momentum but only to be vanquished by another stunning result in the election.

From a no hope situation Congress returned to power and '' for that Mr Tarun Gogoi is singularly responsible'' said former finance minister Himanta Biswa Sharma.

''Had I not returned how could I have had my biggest satisfaction that I could initiate peace process in the state and have made situation from where ULFA could show interest for talk? I can die with that satisfaction'' he said.

Married to Dolly Gogoi, the couple has a son and a daughter and maintain a fiercely guarded private life. His son works for a NGO based at New Delhi and daughter married off. Unlike all other peers, his family is away from politics.

UNI MT RP RS1357

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