Guwahati, May 14: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi appeared to be a man in a hurry as he stepped into his second term in office.
Accompanied by his wife, son and daughter, Gogoi drove straight to his office after being sworn in by governor Ajai Singh to resume his “unfinished” twin tasks.
“Peace is a must. So is development. These are goals I had set out to achieve in 2001. Only half of it has been done and I have to complete the rest,” he said as flashbulbs popped and photographers jostled with one another to capture the moment.
Gogoi has silenced not only his detractors in the Congress, but also the doomsayers outside ' in the Opposition and among the public ' to buck the trend of chief ministers changing with every election since 1972.
He was the only newly-elected member to be administered the oath of office at the Durbar Hall of Raj Bhavan. The other members of the new government are likely to be sworn in by May 18, after the Congress high command approves the draft list of ministers.
Gogoi will leave for Delhi tomorrow. “I hope the process (of finalising the list) will be complete in a day or two,” he said.
The chief minister said only return of peace could speed up development.
The 70-year-old Gogoi’s obsession with peace is understandable. It was during his first stint in Dispur that two powerful but recalcitrant militant groups ' Ulfa and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) ' took the first tentative steps towards negotiations.
But for Gogoi, nothing will ever match the utility of the accord signed with the disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers. Hagrama Mohilary, the man who once led the militant group, is by his side today, helping him retain the reins of power.
But the chief minister avoided questions on the Mohilary-led Bodoland People’s Democratic Front’s demands ' the post of deputy chief minister, two more cabinet berths and one for minister of state with independent charge.
“We will see what can be done. We will not be rigid on this,” Gogoi said.
Mohilary, too, said his party “would not pressure the Congress too much”. But a senior Congress leader said the BPPF, which has 12 MLAs, was likely to get three berths.
Mohilary was the cynosure of all eyes at the Raj Bhavan ceremony. He and Gogoi smiled and posed for photographs after the ceremony.
The Bodo leader was in the front row, while his deputy Chandan Brahma and other newly elected MLAs sat a few rows behind.
Also present at the ceremony were AICC leaders Digvijay Singh, Mohsina Kidwai, union minister Santosh Mohan Dev, and former chief ministers Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Anowara Taimur and Bhumidhar Barman.
Many of the invited guests were forced to watch the proceedings standing, as there were more people than the chairs that had been laid out.
After the ceremony, Gogoi took a stroll on the lawns of Raj Bhavan and soaked in the magnificent view of the Brahmaputra, no doubt wondering what lies on the horizon for him.
“This is beautiful,” he remarked to one of his aides.
He could have been very well speaking about his return to Dispur.