Ex-Assam CM Gogoi dies

Ex-Assam CM Gogoi dies
Tarun Gogoi (File)
Spl. Correspondent GUWAHATI, NOV 23 (NPN) | Publish Date: 11/23/2020 11:29:10 AM IST

A pall of gloom descended on Assam as veteran Congress leader and three-time former chief minister Tarun Gogoi passed away at Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) here on Monday evening due to post-COVID complications. This was confirmed by State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. 

The Congress veteran was 86 and is survived by his wife Dolly Gogoi, daughter Chandrima and son Gaurav.  Diagnosed with COVID in August-end, Gogoi was administered plasma therapy after his condition deteriorated. Having tested negative later, he was however battling post-COVID complications and was put on non-invasive ventilation on November 2, before being put under invasive ventilation on Saturday as his condition worsened.

The Assam government announced a three-day State mourning in honour of Gogoi. Meanwhile, to enable people to catch a last glimpse and pay their last respects to the octogenarian leader, the body would be kept at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakhetra, a cultural institution here, on Tuesday. Gogoi’s death has been widely mourned even as both the ruling BJP and opposition Congress cancelled all party functions, including the ongoing campaign for Bodoland Territorial Council elections, for the next three days as a mark of respect for the departed soul.

Assam announces three-day state mourning: The Assam government on Monday announced a three-day state mourning in the honour of former chief minister Tarun Gogoi. 

The ruling BJP and opposition Congress also cancelled all party functions, including the ongoing campaign for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections, for the next three days as a mark of respect for the three-time chief minister.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, AICC president Sonia Gandhi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh, Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and a host of other prominent leaders condoled the death of the veteran leader. 

As the patriarch of the grand old party in Assam, Gogoi was instrumental in not only reversing the then fluctuating political fortunes of Congress, but also in charting a new path for the State.

Handpicked by Indira Gandhi to lead Youth Congress in 1971, he was a close confidant of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and was Union minister twice between 1991and 1995. He was also the member of the fifth, sixth, seven, 10th, 12th and 13th Lok Sabha. 

He was one of the very few leaders of Congress from Assam who could make a mark at the national level, others being Devakanta Barua, who rose to become AICC president, former chief minister Hiteswar Saikia and former Union minister Santosh Mohan Deb. 

And unlike other senior Congress leaders who of late fell out with the Gandhi family, he was perhaps the only senior leader who remained close to the family till his death. 

Gogoi took over the reins of Assam at a time when the State had become the hotbed of insurgency and abductions, extortions, killings, etc, were rampant. He was instrumental in dealing insurgency with an iron hand, while also being able to retain his image as a clean politician. 

During his 15-year stint as chief minister, the veteran Congress leader not only crushed militancy but also changed the overall image of the State by putting the wheels of economy back on track. Of course, ethnic clashes marred his reign but he managed to control the situation. 

Led by Ratan Tata, corporate India started evincing interest in Assam during his reign and Gogoi ensured that Assam successfully hosted mega events like the South Asian Games, Hero Indian Super League, etc, all of which boosted the State’s image. 

Though BJP dethroned him in 2016 Assembly polls, the veteran Congress leader remained true to his image till his end as a blunt and straight-forward politician, who minced no words while criticising the current dispensation. 

Bringing political stability to Assam, crushing insurgency and putting the State back on the trajectory of progress could be counted as some of Gogoi’s biggest achievements and his legacies. Another of his legacies was that he was never vindictive towards anyone, which is borne out by the fact that he was respected across party lines. 

Like a giant colossus who strode the State’s political spectrum for almost 50 years, Gogoi was also the president of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) and helped in reviving the fortune of Congress in the State. Now even as APCC is once again divided into various warring camps, the party will find it very difficult to have someone of his calibre to take over the reins. 

Rio, Patton convey condolences

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and deputy chief minister Y Patton have expressed grief over the demise of Veteran Congressman and former chief minister of Assam Turin Gogoi 
In a condolence message, Rio described late Gogoi as “a tall, abled and a veteran leader,” who led the Indian National Congress to three consecutive electoral victories in Assam and served the Government of Assam as chief minister for 15 successive years. The chief minister also said that Gogoi was an enthusiastic leader; full of energy, who gave his best for the State of Assam and the nation. 
He was respected and regarded as a guardian and a teacher for his sincerity and his vast knowledge gained during his long political career, Rio said, adding that he would be remembered for his sacrifices and contributions in the service of the nation and would remain in the hearts of the people for generations to come. 
State chief minister stated that it was a moment of deep sorrow for the people of Assam in particular and the North East region in general as the region has lost a father figure. 
“India has lost a tall leader and the region bids farewell to a stalwart,” Rio said, adding that the vacuum created due to his death would be impossible to fill. 
The chief minister, on behalf of Government of Nagaland, extended deepest condolences to the bereaved family members in this hour of grief and prayed that the departed soul will rest in eternal peace. 
Dy.CM: State deputy chief minister, Y Patton, who is also state BJP legislature party leader, said that Gogoi was a tall political leader from Northeast region who was respected for his integrity and wisdom. Patton said Gogoi took over the helm of affairs when Assam was at the peak of insurgency turmoil, and brought the state to path of visible peace and development through a matured diplomatic approach. 
In his death, Patton said the nation has lost a seasoned political leader whose service would be missed. 
Patton, on behalf of the BJP legislators of Nagaland, conveyed deepest condolences to the bereaved family and prayed for the departed soul to rest in peace.

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