Talking Sense

Can Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s third running victory bring peace-through-dialogue to a long-embattled state?

01 June 2011
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi waves to supporters after election results were declared in Gauhati, India, 13 May 2011.
ANUPAM NATH / AP PHOTO
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi waves to supporters after election results were declared in Gauhati, India, 13 May 2011.
ANUPAM NATH / AP PHOTO

WHEN THE CONGRESS WON 78 of the 126 seats in the Assam assembly last month, no one was more surprised than the party’s senior leaders. The best projection, by CNN-IBN and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, said the Congress would cut close to the halfway mark with 60-63 seats. Other pre-poll surveys projected a hung assembly. And although Congress leaders involved in backroom discussions with smaller parties were told to pull out by Tarun Gogoi, who has been chief minister for three consecutive seasons, this grand old man of Assam politics said that his party would continue its alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BDF).

"They helped us in 2006 when we were in trouble, having fallen way short of a simple majority. So we will keep them in our government," said Gogoi. When I asked him if there was one particular factor that could explain his party’s landslide victory, Gogoi said, "Assam believes we can bring back total peace to this troubled state. And, God willing, we will."

One of the first to congratulate Gogoi on his near-clean sweep was United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa . "The people of Assam and those in the ULFA welcome this great victory by the Congress under the leadership of Tarun Gogoi," he said. "We have great expectations from his government. We hope it will work for peace and a final political settlement in Assam."

Subir Bhaumik is a former BBC correspondent and author of two acclaimed books.

Keywords: Delhi chief minister Congress Assam Tarun Gogoi ULFA
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