Gogoi`s political acumen helps Cong retain power for 3rd term

Last Updated: Friday, May 13, 2011 - 12:55

Guwahati: Credited with bringing
insurgent group ULFA to the negotiating table and hauling
Assam back from the brink of bankruptcy, Chief Minister Tarun
Gogoi has combined administrative and political acumen with
his simple demeanour to help Congress retain power for a
record consecutive third term.

Behind the genial smile and a straight-forward
approach of 75-year-old Gogoi, who has also served as a Union
minister and six terms in Lok Sabha, lies a man who means
business when it comes to development of Assam.

The highlight of Gogoi`s 10-year rule in the past was
bringing several militant outfits of the state, including the
ULFA, to the negotiating table and ensuring financial
stability of the state government.

Gogoi had taken over the reins of power for the first
time on May 17, 2001, from the Asom Gana Parishad and was
faced with the challenge of bringing the state out of the
morass of militant violence and financial instability
characterised by a huge debt burden, so much so that even
government employees were not receiving their salaries on
time.

Gogoi`s initiative in this direction paid dividends
and Congress returned to power for the second consecutive
term, albeit with lesser seats and he formed the government in
alliance with its coalition partner Bodoland Peoples` Front
(BPF) in 2006.

Gogoi`s second term as chief minister was a mix of
high and low with the multi-crore North Cachar Hills fund
diversion case causing embarrassment to Congress. However, he
overcame it by bringing several militant organisations like
the ULFA, NDFB (Pro-talk group), DHD, UPDS and others to the
negotiating table.

Plagued by ill-health in the last year of his second
term, Gogoi underwent three complicated heart surgeries -- a
bypass, aortic valve replacement and enlargement of the aorta
procedure -- at Mumbai`s Asian Heart Institute.

He again underwent a surgery for replacing his pace
maker just a few weeks before election campaign was scheduled
to start this year.

On both the occasions, he recovered fast and took
charge of both office and election campaign with renewed
vigour.

Enjoying the confidence of Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Gogoi`s journey to
the state`s top post was scripted with patience and
perseverance.

Born in the sylvan surroundings of Rangajan Tea
Estate to a tea garden doctor Kamleswar Gogoi and his wife
Usha Gogoi on April 1, 1936, in Upper Assam`s Jorhat
district, Gogoi, called `Punakon` fondly by his parents, spent
his childhood playing in the sprawling lush green of the tea
garden with his siblings and children of the garden labourers.

Gogoi`s penchant for politics took roots early in life. Though his father had wanted him to study medicine or
engineering he had set his heart on politics and even told his
teacher that he wanted to become prime minister when he grew
up.

Motivated by the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru
who visited Jorhat in 1952, Gogoi, then studying in Class X,
began participating in various political activities and much
to the annoyance of his father and teachers failed to clear
his High School Leaving examinations that year. He, however,
cleared it the next year as a private candidate.

Gogoi plunged into politics as a student of Jagannath
Barooah (JB) College in Jorhat and after his graduation,
joined the Allahabad University to pursue a law degree. He,
however, fell ill and returned to Assam getting his law degree
from Gauhati University.

An active leader of the Assam unit of Bharat Yuvak
Samaj, Gogoi joined Congress in 1963 and since then has been a
party loyalist ardently supporting both Indira Gandhi, her son
Rajiv Gandhi and then Sonia Gandhi.

He also served the party as a general secretary and
joint secretary in the 1980s, besides heading the Assam
Pradesh Congress Committee from 1986-90 and again from 1997 to
2001.

His foray into electoral political office began with
his election as a member of the Jorhat Municipal Board in 1968
and in 1971 he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time
from the Jorhat Parliamentary constituency.

Gogoi was a member of the fifth, sixth, seven, tenth,
twelfth and thirteenth Lok Sabha and was the Union minister of
Food Processing with independent charge from 1991 to 1995.

An ardent sports lover, Gogoi played golf regularly
till recently and keenly follows cricket, football and tennis.

He is also fond of reading, gardening, good food and
earlier enjoyed shopping for his own clothes and accessories.

Married to Dolly Gogoi, a post graduate in Zoology
from Gauhati University, in 1972 in Guwahati, the couple has a
daughter, Chandrima, an MBA and a son Gaurav who holds a
degree in Public Administration from New York University.

Gogoi`s family, with his wife choosing to be a
housewife and both his children living abroad, have stayed
away from politics though his son campaigned for his father in
his constituency Titabor. However, the indulgent father
claimed his son had no intention of joining politics but was
currently visiting Assam to understand his state and people
better.

PTI



First Published: Friday, May 13, 2011 - 12:55

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