Gogoi Junior chants progress in 'Amethi of Assam'

Gogoi Junior chants progress in 'Amethi of Assam'

 As his cavalcade makes way through the crowded market in Titabor, Gourav Gogoi notices some village elders on the roadside and gets off his open jeep to greet them.

“We have been voting for your father and uncle so far and now we will vote for you. God bless you,” says one of the elders offering Gourav a “gamochha” – a colourful hand-woven towel traditionally exchanged as a mark of respect in Assam. Kaliabor is the “Amethi” of Assam. And Gourav, the son of the state’s Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, is making his political debut in the family pocket-borough.

“You have seen all-round development not only in Kaliabor, but also in every nook and corner of Assam over the past 13 years. I am sure you will again repose faith in Congress and vote for me, just as you voted for my father and uncle in the past,” Gourav says as he addresses an election rally in Titabor. The 31-year-old, who did his Masters’ in Public Administration from New York University, does not apparently need to work hard though. Kaliabor  has been a bastion of the Congress. It has sent Tarun Gogoi to the Lok Sabha thrice between 1991 and 1999.

His brother Dip Gogoi entered the state Assembly as an MLA from Titabor, one of the Assembly segments of Kaliabor  LS constituency, in 2001.

Dip later vacated the seat for his elder brother, who resigned as an MP after taking over as the chief minister and won the bypoll to enter the state Assembly. Tarun, who is now in his third straight term in the Chief Minister’s office, was elected to the state Assembly twice more – in 2006 and 2011.

Dip, too, was later elected to the Lok Sabha from Kaliabor  thrice – in 2002, 2004 and 2009. This year, however, he has again stepped aside to make way for his nephew, Gourav. Kaliabor, being the home-turf of the Congress’ first family in Assam, has indeed got a facelift over the past few years. Water supply system, network of metalled roads, hospitals, sports complexes and market places, it has now got all the trappings of a “VVIP constituency” which makes it easy for Gourav to win over voters.
Most of his 12 rivals, however, seek to deflate the Gogois’ “development balloon” in Kaliabor. “The development that the father-son duo boasts of just disappears into thin air when you go to villages of Koliabor,” alleges Asom Gana Parishad candidate Arun Chandra Sharma.  “There is no electricity and no water supply in most of the villages of Kaliabor. The roads in rural areas are all dilapidated. The tube-wells are not working and most of the farmers are deprived of irrigation,” echoes Mrinal Saikia of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

It has been just three years since Gourav, an engineer-turned-development-activist who lived in New Delhi and New York in the past, has been taking a keen interest in the politics of Assam.

No wonder, many of his rivals try to highlight his relative “inexperience” and “disconnect” with local issues and aspirations of local people. Others criticise his rise in the politics of Assam as an extension of the prevalent “dynastic culture” of the Congress.

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