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Former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi passes away at 86

Former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi passes away at 86

Tuesday 24th November 2020

Former Assam chief minister and veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi passed away at 86 on Monday after falling critically ill due to post-Covid complications. Earlier in the day, it was reported that Gogoi was extremely critical and on complete life support at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH).

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was among the first persons to confirm the development. He said Gogoi passed away after a prolonged illness at 5.34 PM today. Sarma, who visited the government-run hospital in the morning, earlier said that Gogoi's health condition had turned extremely critical.

"The doctors are getting some signs only from his brain. The doctors also noticed a little eye movement. But, all other organs have stopped functioning. Now at this moment, I don’t think that the doctors have other options. All things are now with God. We are praying for his early recovery and hopefully, God will hear our prayer,” Himanta Biswa Sarma said earlier in the day.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had also canceled all his government programs today and left for Guwahati from Dibrugarh because of Tarun Gogoi’s deteriorating health condition.

"Flying back to Guwahati from Dibrugarh after canceling my programs midway to be on the side of respected Tarun Gogoi da & his family as the former CM's health deteriorates. He has always been a father figure to me. I join millions in praying for his recovery," he said in a tweet.

In a fresh tweet, the Assam chief minister expressed condolences after the demise of Tarun Gogoi. "I express heartfelt condolences on the demise of former Chief Minister, a tall leader, and 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," Sonowal said.

"Tarun Gogoi was a people's leader who had a great contribution to Assam's political and public sphere. Even though we were in Opposition parties, we shared a wonderful rapport and he was a guiding figure. My deepest condolences to his family and well-wishers," Sonowal said in another tweet.

Sonowal also posted pictures where he along with thousands offered final prayers or "shraddhanjali" to the mortal remains of Tarun Gogoi.

"Along with thousands at GMCH, offered my last shraddhanjali to the mortal remains of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi da. I join the people of Assam in mourning the loss of a great leader," Sonowal said.

Three-time former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi passed away due to multiple organ failure at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Guwahati on Monday.

The announcement of death was made by Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. He said Gogoi passed away at 5:34 pm. His son and Lok Sabha member Gaurav Gogoi and other family members were by his side when he breathed his last.

The 86-year-old Congress veteran was suffering from post-COVID-19 complications. Over the past three months, since he tested positive for COVID-19, he had been in and out of the GMCH. After his health condition had deteriorated, he was put on complete life support. A ten-member team of doctors from the GMCH treated him in consultations with experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

The songs of legendary singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika and speeches of former PMs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were played out at the ICU. A headphone was placed on Gogoi’s ears.

“It was done as advised by (singer) Zubeen Garg. We thought my father would get peace,” Gogoi’s son and Lok Sabha member Gaurav said.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal canceled his programs in Dibrugarh and rushed to Guwahati. He said Gogoi had always been a father figure to him. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called up to enquire about Gogoi’s health. A bevy of politicians, cutting across party lines, also visited the hospital.

In his five-decade-old illustrious political career, Gogoi had served as an MP for several terms. He had first donned the chief minister’s mantle in 2001 and held the position till 2016 when the Congress was ousted by a resurgent BJP.

Born in 1934 in Jorhat district, Gogoi had his early education at No 26 Rangajan Nimna Buniyadi Vidyalaya, Bholaguri High School, and Jorhat Government High School. He did his graduation from the JB College in Jorhat and LLB from Gauhati University. His father was a medical practitioner at the Rangajan Tea Estate in Jorhat.

He was first elected to the Parliament in 1971 when he won from the prestigious Jorhat seat. In 1976, he was elected as the joint secretary of the All India Congress Committee. Later, he served as the party’s general secretary (1985–90). He was appointed as a minister in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao in 1991. 

Gogoi also served as the president of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (1986-90) and was an MLA for four terms. In the Assembly, he first represented the Margherita seat. Since 2001, he had represented the Titabor constituency. 

He was credited with the taming insurgency in the state. When he had taken over as the CM in 2001, bomb blasts by the militants were the order of the day. His government had made peace with several insurgent groups vis-a-vis the signing of ceasefire agreements. The state’s economic condition was precarious when he became CM. He revived it.

Reminiscing the days of bloodshed, Assam’s Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said: “He (Gogoi) used to tell us there shouldn’t be any compromise on national security. He would say go for them (militants) but do it with a humane face”.