GUWAHATI: Ahead of the third and final phase of the assembly elections, Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi was confident that the results will signal the return of the old trend of Assam giving mandate to a new party every five years. Except for his father Tarun Gogoi’s 15-year unbroken stint, Assam hasn’t given two consecutive terms to any party after 1985.
However, Congress has been missing their tallest leader even though Gogoi says his father’s memory has endured and will be a significant factor even in this election. “As we travelled across the state, we realised that he is respected everywhere. People were still talking about him,” said Gogoi who is Congress’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha.
Tarun Gogoi was Assam’s longest serving chief minister. He died of Covid-19 complications last year and was awarded Padma Bhushan. Gaurav Gogoi doesn’t see himself as the chief ministerial candidate yet, but his priority will be to keep his allies close and defeat any attempt by others to make them shift their loyalties.
Poll watchers have predicted a close contest between the Congress-led Mahajot and the BJP-led alliance. There have been allegations and counter allegations of religious polarisation with the invocation of early modern empires like the Mughals. But Gogoi believes even when one is talking about the Assamese resistance to the Mughals, it is possible to strike a communally cordial note. This is especially necessary in Assam that has a religiously diverse population.
“Assam has a rich history of all communities standing together to defend our soil. That’s why Lachit Barphukan (Ahom general) and Bagh Hazarika aka Ismail Siddique (one of his able lieutenants) came together to defend Assam from the Mughals. We have a heritage where Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva had Muslim disciples. Communal and religious hatred is alien to Assam’s culture,” Gogoi said.
He also believes that politics isn’t just about power but also about performance.