Guwahati, May 13: Seventy-year-old Tarun Gogoi is set for his date with history tomorrow, when he will be sworn in as the 16th chief minister of Assam.
A day of hectic political activity today saw Gogoi become the first in Assam to ensconce himself in the hot seat for a second successive term. He will be sworn in tomorrow afternoon at the Raj Bhavan as the head of a coalition government comprising the Congress and the Bodoland People’s Progressive Front (Hagrama).
Earlier in the day, Gogoi was unanimously elected leader of the Congress Legislature Party, a foregone conclusion with most party heavyweights falling by the wayside at the hustings. Senior Congress legislator Bhumidhar Barman proposed his name and Gautam Roy seconded it at the CLP meeting.
Bolstered by support from 12 legislators of the BPPF’s Hagrama Mohilary faction and seven Independents, Gogoi staked claim to form the new government at Dispur this evening. With 72 MLAs supporting him, Gogoi called on Governor Lt Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh. He will be the only one to be sworn in tomorrow, Raj Bhavan sources said.
Gogoi becomes the third person after Hiteswar Saikia and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta to become chief minister twice. However, their terms were not back-to-back as in the case of Gogoi.
This is also the first time since 1972 that a party has retained power. Which explained why Gogoi and senior AICC leaders ' Digvijay Singh, Mohsina Kidwai and Chandan Bagchi ' couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear.
Gogoi said starting direct talks with the Ulfa would top the new government’s agenda. He said his government would also try to hold talks with outfits like the NDFB.
Gogoi said his party’s victory in the polls endorsed his government’s peace and development policy, which he would carry forward.
He announced today that the Union cabinet has recently approved the much-awaited Rs 5,460-crore Assam Gas Cracker Project. He termed this a gift of the UPA government to the people of Assam.
Significantly, Mohilary today toned down his strident demands, merely placing implementation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Accord as its only condition for extending support.
Sources claimed the turnaround came after the Congress threatened the BPPF with the Assam United Democratic Front bogey to force the Bodo group into dropping its demands for ministerial berths. Congress leaders war-ned that the party, with support of Independents and the AUDF, could form the government even without BPPF aid.