Conciliation is a key word in Tarun Gogoi's dictionary. "We are against any witch hunt -- either against government officials or our political rivals," Assam's Chief Minister designate said in an interview to Outlookindia.com on Monday morning. No one should have any fear on this count, he said. Basking in the glory of having the led the Congress to a resounding victory -- the party bagging 72 seats in a House of 126, Gogoi has ample reasons to smile.
"In a complex and problem ridden state like Assam, we need co-operation from all, including our friends in the Opposition. In fact, when Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (the outgoing Chief Minister) called me, I sought his co-operation for the betterment of the state," Gogoi disclosed. Buoyed by the fact that the Congress has done well even among non-traditional supporters like the caste Hindu Assamese for the first time in three decades, Gogoi says "I want to make a fresh beginning in all aspects, be it rebuilding the composite Assamese society or making the state prosperous." Clearly, Gogoi is in a mood to forgive and forget.
In fact, observers here in Guwahati attribute the Congress' thumping comeback to Gogoi's pleasant disposition and his ability to carry all factions and diverse opinions along. Traditionally, the Congress has depended on a potent combination of
Muslims, tea garden workers and a section of Bengali Hindus for its votes.This time however, the party made inroads into the regional bastions of lower Assam known to be the stronghold of regional parties like the ousted Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
"For the first time since 1972, all sections of the Assamese society have voted for us," Gogoi points out. He is even willing to concede an autonomous set-up for the Bodos under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, as envisaged in a proposed accord with the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), a militant group, currently observing a ceasefire with the government.
Economic development of Assam and solving the grave problem of unemployment will of course be the main thrust of the Congress government, he said. He, however, conceded that the state's financial position was precarious. "At this moment I do not want to go into the reasons for such a state of affairs but we will need help even from the Centre in this regard," he said.
The newly-elected Congress MLAs are expected to meet on Wednesday in the presence of AICC observer Kamal Nath and formerly elect Gogoi as the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader. He is expected to stake his claim with the Governor the same day. The date of swearing-in is yet to be fixed though.
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