From climbing trees to scaling political heights - Tarun Gogoi




By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS,

Guwahati : As a child, he would often sneak into an orchard and climb a mango tree, besides dreaming of scaling the highest rung of India's politics and becoming the prime minister. That dream may not have come true, but he did become Assam chief minister twice, says an authorised biography of Tarun Gogoi.

All this and many more interesting details of the 76-year-old Assam chief minister have been vividly portrayed in his biography "Tarun Gogoi: The inside story of a blunt politician" authored by well-known journalist Wasbir Hussain.

The book was launched Monday by former central minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and noted writer and Jnanpith Award Winner Indira Raisom Goswami in the presence of Tarun Gogoi in Guwahati.

"It is not just a story of my life, it is actually a rich product of Assam's contemporary political history," the chief minister, endearingly called Punakon (his nickname) by his family and close friends, wrote in a note in the 291-page neatly bound biography.

The biography chronicles the life of Tarun Gogoi, from politics to intimate personal details, laced with quotes from friends, relatives, and those who knew the straightforward chief minister from close.

"While in Class 9, one of his teachers asked him about his aim in life. 'To be the prime minister of India,' Tarun replied. The teacher wasn't surprised and asked him a few questions related to politics, and Tarun responded to the former's satisfaction," the biography says.

The chief minister was a prankster as a child.

"Tarun would often trespass into Bandhubari, an orchard on way to school. He would climb a mango tree and stay put on it for a while. Once, he fell from one such tree and sustained injuries," the biography quotes one of his playmates, Haren Rai, a tea-garden worker, as saying.

The chief minister's father, a doctor, says: "Oh, let me tell you…I gave Punakon (Tarun) money to purchase cement, and he ended up buying a coat."

Tarun Gogoi's initiation into politics took place at a very tender age.

"I was in Class 3 when Nehru visited Jorhat (his ancestral hometown). I saw Panditjit from so close range that I remember his attire and the sandals he was wearing even today," Tarun Gogoi says in the biography.

But is wife Dolly Gogoi happy with the chief minister's performance and bluntness?

"His blunt approach has not affected him adversely so far. Perhaps, there are many people who like a straight-talking blunt politician," Dolly says.

Often she tells him to remain 'cool' before talking to the media.

But Dolly and their two children, son Gaurav and daughter Chandrima, want him to quit politics.

"I often tell him to quit politics," Dolly says in the biography.

"They say enough is enough, and that I must now call it quits," the chief minister corroborates his wife's feelings.

But then with passions like golf, good food, and clothes, besides a dream to take Assam to newer heights, Tarun Gogoi is now surely not thinking of quitting politics and is actively working for a political hattrick in next year's assembly elections.

(Syed Zarir Hussain can be contacted at zarirhussain@yahoo.com)

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