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Tarun Gogoi: Man with administrative and political acumen

With his administrative acumen and a rare insight into the complex dynamics of Assam politics, Tarun Gogoi enjoys the confidence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Updated: May 18, 2011, 21:27 PM IST

Guwahati: With his administrative acumen and
a rare insight into the complex dynamics of Assam politics,
Tarun Gogoi enjoys the confidence of Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Gogoi, who is credited with bringing ULFA to the
negotiating table and pulling Assam back from the brink of
bankruptcy, is rewarded with a third consecutive term in
office as Chief Minister.

Gogoi`s penchant for politics took roots early in life
and though his father had wanted him to study medicine or
engineering, his heart was set on politics. He even once
told his teacher that he wanted to become the Prime Minister.
Powerfully motivated by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal
Nehru who visited Jorhat in 1952, Gogoi (75), then studying in
Class 10, began participating in political activities. He
failed to clear his High School examinations that year.

He, however, managed to clear it next year as a
private candidate.

After leaving school, he joined the Jagannath Barooah
College where he plunged into students` politics and after
graduation, joined the Allahabad University to pursue a law.

He, however, fell ill and returned to Assam and received
his law degree from the Gauhati University.

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

He also served the party as an AICC General Secretary
and Joint Secretary in 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, seventh, 10th,
12th and 13th Lok Sabhas and was the Union Minister of Food
Processing with independent charge from 1991 to 1995.

He also served as member in several committees including
the Committee on Government Assurances, on External Affairs,
Consultative Committee of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural
Gas and Committee on Railways.

He was a former director of Vayudoot, member of Assam Bar
Council and former Chairman of Assam Small Scale Industries
Development Council.
Gogoi took over the reins of the government for the first
time on May 17, 2001, from Asom Gana Parishad and was faced
with the task of bringing the state out of the morass of
militant violence and financial instability characterised by a
huge debt burden. Even government employees not receiving
their salaries on time.

His initiatives in these direction paid dividends with
the Congress returning to power for the second consecutive
term, though with lesser seats, and formed the government in
alliance with its coalition partner Bodoland Peoples` Front
(BPF) in 2006.

His second term as Chief Minister was a mix of high
and low with the multi-crore North Cachar Hills fund diversion
scheme creating embarrassment, but he successfully countered
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 during 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 the start of election campaign.
Both times he recovered fast and took charge of the office and
the election campaign.

He was born in the sylvan surroundings of the Rangajan
Tea Estate to a tea garden doctor Kamleswar Gogoi and his wife
Usha on April 1, 1936, in Upper Assam`s Jorhat district.

Gogoi, called `Punakon` fondly by his parents, had an
idyllic childhood playing in the sprawling tea garden with his
siblings and the children of garden labourers.

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

His children, living abroad, have stayed away from
politics though his son was seen campaigning for his father in
his constituency Titabor.

PTI