Gogoi to focus on peace, progress in third term
Tarun Gogoi is about to begin his third term as Assam chief minister and still dreaming big.
Guwahati: As a Class 9 student he was asked about his aim in life. "To be the prime minister of India," came his rapid reply. Almost 60 years later, Tarun Gogoi is about to begin his third term as Assam chief minister and still dreaming big -- to usher in peace and progress in the biggest state of the under-developed northeastern region.
And the wily 76-year-old is already busy thinking of his next move, one of them is to choose 18 members from 99 legislators to form the cabinet which is to be sworn-in next week. "I am sure there would be no problem in choosing the cabinet, although we have to juggle the cabinet among 78 of our legislators. I am not saying anything about the BPF (Bodoland People's Front) right now, but all I can say is that the BPF is with us," Gogoi told IANS.
The talk of the town is Gogoi's magic that helped the Congress achieve a political hat-trick despite a spirited opposition, confident of forming an opposition government in the run up to the polls. "The magic is development and sincerity. People voted us to power based on our performance in the last 10 years of our rule," a beaming Gogoi said even as he received congratulatory phone calls from his well wishers.
The Congress won 78 seats in the 126-member assembly, while its ally BPF secured 12 seats. The size of the cabinet, including the chief minister, cannot exceed 19. "People realised that if Assam has to grow then there is no alternate other than the Congress and so reposed faith on us," he said.
Bringing the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) to the negotiating table has also been another reason for people rejecting the opposition and voting the Congress once again. "Sure peace is another reason for people supporting us. Development and peace really helped people to judge the parties," Gogoi said.
From sneaking into an orchard and climbing a mango tree as a child, to making political history of sorts by winning election after election, Gogoi is now hoping to transform Assam and make it one of India's economically developed states.
"The responsibility on us is even more challenging this time. We need to be sincere, aggressive, and determined to make Assam self-reliant and for all round economic development," Gogoi said.
Sharp-edged as he is, Gogoi said insincerity on the part of any of new ministerial colleagues would not be tolerated while outlining the priorities of his new government. "We need to further stress on sectors like education, healthcare, roads and infrastructure, human resource development, agriculture, and tourism," the chief minister said.
Tarun Gogoi's initiation into politics took place at a very tender age. "I was in Class 3 when Nehru visited Jorhat (his ancestral hometown). I saw Panditjit from so close range that I remember his attire and the sandals he was wearing even today," Gogoi said.
He is big dreamer - some his dreams are yet to be realized. "While in Class 9, one of my teachers asked me about my aim in life. 'To be the prime minister of India,' I replied."
But is wife Dolly Gogoi happy with the chief minister's performance and bluntness? "His blunt approach has not affected him adversely so far. Perhaps, there are many people who like a straight-talking blunt politician," Dolly Gogoi said.
But Dolly and their two children, son Gaurav and daughter Chandrima, want him to quit politics. "I often tell him to quit politics," Dolly said.
"They say enough is enough, and that I must now call it quits," the chief minister corroborates his wife's feelings.
But then with passions like golf, good food, and clothes, besides a dream to take Assam to newer heights, Tarun Gogoi is now surely not thinking of quitting politics. "I shall continue to work for Assam's development and my health is fine as of now," said Gogoi, who underwent three critical heart surgeries last year.
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