“Baad Diya He” (just leave it) — a phrase that former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi often uttered when faced with a quandary. And when he departed from the world, people fondly remember him as a leader who never left them in difficult times.
Gogoi’s final journey began on Tuesday morning from Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), where he breathed his last due to post-COVID-19 complications, to his official residence in Dispur.
The 84-year-old Congress politician died here on Monday while undergoing treatment. He is survived by wife Dolly, daughter Chandrima and son Gaurav.
Officials said Gogoi would be cremated with full state honours on November 26. His body was embalmed at the hospital and brought to his residence.
The veteran politician’s son and Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi, accompanied by senior leaders and hundreds of supporters, received the body from GMCH, which was then taken out in a procession.
His glass coffin, wrapped in flowers, was shouldered by Gaurav, Congress Assam unit chief Ripun Bora, Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia and other senior leaders such as Pradyut Bordoloi and Rakibul Hussain.
Many senior leaders and legislators accompanied the veteran Congress leader’s cortege along the arterial Guwahati-Shillong Road.
Passersby offered floral tributes to their former CM. “I am 75 years old and haven’t stepped out of home since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Today, however, I came out to bid farewell to our beloved leader,” said Ramani Sharma, a resident of Tarun Nagar locality, as he stood amid a sea of people on the GS Road.
Hiranya Sarma, another local in his 40s, said Gogoi led Assam in one of the most difficult phases, when salaries were put on hold for nearly two years, insurgency was at its peak, secret killings were rampant and nobody dared to leave home after sunset.
“He was a central minister and a six-time MP. He could have enjoyed a luxurious life in Delhi, but he came back for us. He did not leave us in difficult times. We, the youths, had no future. But he changed that scenario completely,” Sarma added.
Congress spokesperson Rhituporna Konwar, who, for years, had been handling the media for Gogoi, said he never hesitated to call a spade a spade.
“He even wore the black robe after nearly four decades to fight against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Supreme Court. He was a man who lived his life for the people of the state and Northeast region at large,” he added.
Scores of people and leaders cutting across party lines were also seen gathering at Gogoi’s official residence in Dispur to pay their last respects.
From there, the body was taken to Janata Bhawan, the state secretariat, from where Gogoi served people for 15 years as the chief minister.
Among others, Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua and DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta were present at the building. Gogoi is credited with setting up Janata Bhawan as the permanent secretariat of the state.
Later in the day, the mortal remains would be transferred to Congress headquarters Rajiv Bhawan for the party workers to pay their homage.
As per the family’s wish, the mortal remains will then be taken to Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra complex in Guwahati in the evening. People will be allowed to catch a final glimpse of the grand old man all of November 25.
Gogoi would be cremated in Guwahati on Thursday instead of his hometown Titabor. However, people from his constituency are demanding that his last rites be performed in his home district.
“As per Gogoi’s wish, the body will be taken to a temple, mosque and church before the last rites,” the Congress state unit chief had earlier said.
Many central leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, are likely to visit Assam over the next two days to pay their last respects to Gogoi.
The Assam government has announced a three-day state mourning in honour of Gogoi. The BJP, Congress, AGP and other political parties also cancelled all party functions, including the ongoing election campaign for the Bodoland Territorial Council polls, for the period.