‘Tarun Gogoi was my guru’: Rahul Gandhi

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Guwahati, Nov 25: Calling former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi his guru, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday paid tributes to the grand old party stalwart’s mortal remains and said his demise is a “personal loss”.

He said talking to Gogoi was like speaking with the entire state as the three-time chief minister used to only talk about Assam and its people.

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After arriving in Guwahati on a special flight from Goa, Gandhi straightaway reached Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, where Gogoi’s body has been kept for the public to pay their last respect.

He offered floral tributes to Gogoi’s mortal remains in the presence of the veteran Congress leader’s parliamentarian son Gaurav.

“I think Gogoi ji was not just a leader of Assam. He was a formidable CM and a national leader. He inspired us by bringing people of Assam together and bringing peace to the state,” Gandhi told reporters after having the last glimpse of the Congressman.

Gogoi did a “great service” to Assam and also a “tremendous service” to India, he said.

“I have spent many hours with Gogoi ji. He was my teacher, my guru. He explained to me what Assam is and what the people of Assam are. He explained to me the beauty of Assam. It’s a personal loss for me,” Gandhi said while standing beside Gogoi’s body.

The senior Congress leader died here on Monday while undergoing treatment for post-COVID-19 complications. He is survived by wife Dolly Gogoi, daughter Chandrima and son Gaurav.

From Kalakshetra, Gandhi went to Gogoi’s official residence in Dispur to meet his wife and daughter. He spent about 30 minutes with them before going to the airport to leave the city.

“Whenever I used to come, I used to sit with him in the car for hours. Gogoi ji never spoke about himself for a single minute. He used to talk only about Assam and its people. He had his views for Assam.

“So, whenever I used to talk with Gogoi ji, it was not like talking to one person but with the entire state. For him, everyone was equal. Assam is of all religions, all languages and it was in his heart. I learnt a lot from him,” Gandhi said.

Because of huge diversity on almost every front in Assam, it was a difficult task to unite the people but the former chief minister had done that, he said.

Asked about any memorable personal experience with Gogoi, Gandhi said, “When I first came to Assam, I was young and roaming freely. You may say it as arrogance that I had the feeling as if I understood everything. Then I sat with Gogoi ji and he taught me humility in five minutes.”

Gandhi said that even after spending the whole life here, he will not be able to learn about Assam so much like what Gogoi had experienced in his entire life.

“It is sad I could not spend some more time with him though I used to speak with Gaurav in his father’s last few days,” Gandhi said.

Talking about the loss to the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee, the former Congress chief said it will be tough without Gogoi, but the state unit will follow his ideals in the coming days.

Gogoi will be cremated at Nabagraha crematorium in Guwahati on Thursday afternoon instead of his hometown Titabor. However, people from his constituency are demanding that his last rites be performed in his home district Jorhat.

“As per Gogoi’s wish, his body will be taken to a temple, a mosque and a church before the last rites,” Congress state chief Ripun Bora had earlier said.