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    End of an Era: Tarun Gogoi who could disarm his critics with a childlike smile

    Though many believed that Gogoi might contest the ensuing 2021 state polls, an ailing Gogoi had announced that he would continue to work for the people of the state till the end

    GUWAHATI: Tarun Gogoi-an unassuming politician who can disarm even his harshest critic with a childlike smile- breathed his last on Monday evening leaving the entire state of Assam in a state of sorrow.

    After fighting a long battle against the global pandemic of Covid19, former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi passed away at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on Monday. He was 86 and was suffering from post-Covid 19 ailments.

    Since taking over in 1996 as the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Gogoi has not only kept a ‘divided’ party together with a smile (Congress is a democratic and big party. There will be and should be a difference of opinions, was his oft-repeated line during crises) but has also taken it to new electoral heights.

    Born in April 1936, Gogoi was politically-inclined since his school days. Don his schooling at Jorhat Government Boys School, Gogoi had done his BA from Dibrugarh University and then LLB from Guwahati University. After LLB Gogoi practiced law with the Assam Bar Council.

    Tarun Gogoi at Supreme Court (file)

    The veteran Congress leader recently re-embraced his former profession, a lawyer, after three decades on December 18 last year before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019.

    Gogoi’s political career took wings way back in 1971 after he got elected to the fifth Lok Sabha. Gogoi has served six terms as a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Lok Sabha. He first represented Jorhat in 1971–85. Later Gogoi was elected from Kaliabor (1991–96/1998–2002). The Kaliabor seat is currently held by his son Gaurav Gogoi.

    He also served in the Union Cabinet of India under Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao as Union Minister of State in the Food and Food Processing Industry.

    Gogoi had become a political leader of national stature after he was elected Joint Secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in 1976 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. After signing the historic Assam Accord in 1986 between the Centre and the All Assam Students Union (AASU), the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave Gogoi the responsibility of rebuilding a shattered Congress in Assam at a time when the triumphant student leaders won the Assembly elections and made General Secretary of the AICC (1985–90).

    Later, in 1996-98, Gogoi was first elected as a Member of the Assam Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Margherita Constituency.

    Gogoi was elected Chief Minister of Assam in 2001 after he led the Indian National Congress to victory in the state elections. Gogoi has represented the 100 no Titabar constituency of Jorhat district since 2001. From 2011 Gogoi led the party to a record three consecutive electoral victories in Assam as Chief Minister.

    Known for his sober nature and clean image without any controversy, Gogoi continued to remain as one of the strongest voices not only for his party but for the state of Assam till his last breath. He had maintained his connection with the ground-level workers and commoners.

    Tarun Gogoi at a public rally (file)

    Though many believed that Gogoi might contest the ensuing 2021 state polls once again, an ailing Gogoi had announced that he would continue to work for the people of the state till the end. During his hospital days also, Gogoi had released an audio clip thanking the people of Assam for their blessings for his speedy recovery.

    In days before he tested positive for COVID-19, Gogoi was at forefront of the Congress’s initiative to form a ‘grand alliance’ comprising all the opposition parties for the 2021 assembly polls and holding meetings with all stakeholders.

    Gogoi was admitted to GMCH on November 2 after he had complained of breathlessness. He had earlier tested positive for Covid-19 on August 25 and was discharged from the hospital on October 25.

    Announcing his death, state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he breathed his last at 5.34 PM at GMCH. “His mortals will be kept at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakhetra for public homage on Tuesday. His last rites will be done in full state honour,” Sarma said.

    Tarun Gogoi’s last audio message to the people of Assam:

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