Jailed activist Akhil Gogoi filed his nomination for the upcoming Assembly election in Assam via video conferencing from the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on Monday.
The peasant leader filed his nominations for two constituencies of upper Assam – the prestigious Sibsagar and Mariani seat – as a candidate of the newly floated Raijor Dal.
State Election Commission officials reached GMCH early on Monday, the second last day of filing nomination for the first phase of election to be held on March 27.
Gogoi, also the founder secretary of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, completed the formalities in the presence of GMCH Principal Achyut Baishya.
In judicial custody for taking part if protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Gogoi said his decision to enter the electoral fray is based on his mother’s appeal to him to do so. Priyada Gogoi (82) has been appealing to the government to release her son on humanitarian grounds. She was on an indefinite hunger strike on December 2020 demanding that Gogoi be freed immediately from the custody of the National Investigative Agency (NIA).
In a letter, the activist appealed to the state’s opposition parties to come together strategically to overthrow the BJP from power in Assam. He also reiterated his call to citizens to unite in the political fight against the implementation of the CAA and the BJP government’s policy to legalise 1.90 crore ‘illegal’ Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.
“I request all voters to remember the sacrifices of the five citizens who laid down their lives in their fight against the CAA,” wrote Gogoi, who was arrested from Jorhat on December 12, 2019, for his role in the protests.
Three of his associates were arrested a day later. He was later handed over to the NIA and a court in Guwahati sent him to 10 days custody of the agency on December 17. He was taken to New Delhi the same day for questioning. Gogoi was brought back to Guwahati on December 25 and has been in judicial custody since then. The NIA has lodged cases against him under several sections of the IPC and UAPA for charges of criminal conspiracy, sedition, promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, assertions against national integrity and support to terrorist organisation. Gogol was possibly was the first person to be tried as a terrorist under the newly amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
In July 2020, the activist had tested positive for coronavirus and was admitted in GMCH as his situation worsened. Since then, he has been in the hospital. A movement for his release has gained momentum across the state and in other parts of the country. The Raijor Dol, floated by Gogoi, has fielded 28 candidates for the Assembly elections. Besides Sibsagar and Mariani, the party has fielded candidates for Chabua, Moran, Mahmara, Teok, Bokakhat, Rupohihat, Dhing, Tezpur, Bihpuria, Rangapara, Thowra, Raha, Rangia, Kamalpur, Karimganj, Dalgaon and Jamunamukh.
The Congress had tried to include Raijor Dol in the Grand Alliance, but Gogoi refused to ally with the former. Officially launched by KMSS on October 2, the Raijor Dol has the support of about 70 indigenous groups and the regional party “Sanjukta Anchalik Dal, Asom” – all of whom had united to during the anti-CAA agitation. Electios to the 126-member Assam Assembly will be held in three phases, beginning March 27.