Guwahati, November 24: Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi whose death is being mourned by the state, was a seasoned leader and a skilled administrator who knew how to achieve goals fighting against odds.
He led Assam Pradesh Congress probably in its worst ever phase during 1990s after the demise of Hiteswar Saikia to astounding victory in the Assembly election of 2001. There was a time when Tarun Gogoi used to sit almost alone in a deserted Rajiv Bhawan in Guwahati while leading a totally demoralised Congress party in Assam. Still he never lost hopes and continued to sound optimistic.
He was very vocal against criticising the then AGP government (1996-2001) in Assam for its utter failure on law and order situation, secret killings of kin of ULFA militants, corruption and financial mismanagement, wrong handling of ethnic problems. Almost every alternative day Gogoi as the APCC president addressed the Press in Rajiv Bhawan to fire a broadside at the AGP government and kept himself live in newspaper headlines when there was no 24x7 satellite TV news channel in the state.
After becoming the Chief Minister of the state first in 2001, Gogoi ensured that the darkest era in Assam’s history – secret killings of kin of ULFA members –comes to an end.
When he came to power the state treasury was almost empty, government employees were going without pay for months, development activities were brought to a grinding halt.
Everyone was commenting that peace must be restored in Assam first for development to take place. However, Tarun Gogoi propagated his famous reverse theory – development first and peace will follow and started working in that direction.
From the dark age of ‘secret killing’, Gogoi during his 15-year-long stint as the Chief Minister not only managed to bring almost all the militant outfits of the state to peace negotiation but also led Assam on a road of rapid progress.
It was during Gogoi’s 15 years long rule, peace talks started with a section of the ULFA and Bodo militants and autonomous councils were formed for six ethnic minorities.
Assam Pradesh Congress President Ripun Bora has rightly said, “While Gogoi took charge as the Chief Minister everyone was talking about restoring peace but the former chief minister always believed that development in Assam should not wait for peace. He used to say that peace will come automatically if there is progress.”
Assam’s Finance, Health, Education and PWD Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was once called Gogoi’s ‘blue-eyed boy’, said, “Gogoi has rescued Assam from a period of darkness and ensured a new phase of development while leading the state for 15 years.”
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal who succeeded Gogoi said, “Tarun Gogoi was a people’s leader who had a great contribution in Assam’s political and public sphere. Even though we were in Opposition parties, we shared a wonderful rapport and he was a guiding figure.”
President of India Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi while condoling the death of Tarun Gogoi lauded his invaluable contribution towards restoring peace and ushering in an era of development in Assam. Both of them termed Gogoi a very efficient administrator.