Tarun Gogoi, the Assam Chief Minister of 15 years, stepped into politics in 1968 when he got elected as a member of the Municipal Board of Jorhat, his hometown. Since then, it has been an eventful journey for the leader wherein he occupied important positions within the Congress party, at the Centre and in Assam state.
In 1971, he got elected into the Lok Sabha and since, he has been elected five more times as Member of Parliament. He served as Joint Secretary of the All India Congress Committee in 1976 under the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Between 1991 and 1995, Gogoi served in the Union cabinet as the Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Food and Food Processing Industry.
He went on to defeat the Asom Gana Parishad and swore in as Chief Minister in the state in 2001. He consecutively won two more terms in 2006 and 2011 until 2016 when the Congress was defeated by the BJP who won 100 of the 126 assembly seats. But even then, Gogoi won in Titabar assembly constituency keeping up with his long legacy as a leader of the masses. Many attribute this major turn of events to Himanta Biswa Sarma, a minister of his cabinet who swapped to the BJP and lead it to victory in 2016. Tarun Gogoi was elected as Member of Assam Legislative Assembly five times by the people.
Gogoi took over the state in 2001 when it was struggling with a broken economy and secret killings. Secret killings refer to the brutal killings of family and sympathizers of ULFA militants. A committee constituted by the Congress called Saikia Commission of Enquiry later alleged it was done with the consent of the state government and by an extra-constitutional authority composed of surrendered militants, armed force and police which served as executioners. Though the congress government promised justice for the kin of the victims in 2001 and later in 2006 and 2011, the recommendations of the commission such as dismantling the unified command structure of the armed forces were not executed. However, he did manage to have peace talks with different non-secessionist factions of militant groups which sought to bring calm.
A law graduate from Guwahati University, Gogoi in January 2020 donned his lawyer's gown to oppose the passing of the CAA-NRC in the country. A strong Assam subnationalist, Gogoi in his terms as CM had pushed for updating the National Register of Citizens to distinguish the indigenous population from migrants. In Court, he lashed out at the BJP for using the law created in Assam for the protection of its land and people to create riots across the country.
"We want neither Hindu, nor Muslim immigrants. As it is, Assam is over-populated," argued Gogoi.
Gogoi was born in 1936 to Dr Kamaleshwar Gogoi and Usha Gogoi at Rangajan Tea estate in Jorhat of Upper Assam. Throughout, Gogoi represented upper and middle Assam at the centre and in the state assembly.
Gogoi's passing on Monday has created an outpour of condolences from across the political spectrum.
Shri Tarun Gogoi was a true Congress leader. He devoted his life to bringing all the people and communities of Assam together.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 23, 2020
For me, he was a great and wise teacher. I loved and respected him deeply.
I will miss him. My love and condolences to Gaurav & the family. pic.twitter.com/jTMfSyAJ6J
Extremely sad to know of the demise of Shri Tarun Gogoi, former Chief Minister of Assam. The country has lost a veteran leader with rich political and administrative experience. His long tenure in office was a period of epochal change in Assam.
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) November 23, 2020
I express heartfelt condolences on the demise of former Chief Minister, a tall leader & our most respected Tarun Gogoi da. It's the end of an era in Assam's public life. He was so vibrant and full of life until a few days back, couldn't believe this sad news. pic.twitter.com/GFiAsmc4FB— Sarbananda Sonowal (@sarbanandsonwal) November 23, 2020
The state of Assam has declared three-day mourning in honor of the leader.