Guwahati: Jailed Independent Assam legislator Akhil Gogoi on Saturday alleged that Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is hatching a conspiracy to keep him confined behind bars and is putting “tremendous pressure” on the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to ensure this.
Gogoi, who was granted two-day parole to visit his ailing mother and son by an NIA court hearing cases against him, told reporters at his Selenghat village residence in Jorhat district that he is aware of all the conspiracies that are being hatched against him.
“My appeal to the chief minister is that he should not do Uttar Pradesh-type of politics here but ensure that the norms of traditional democracy are sustained. The politics based on democratic principles in Assam should not be turned into a communal, fascist one,” he said.
The Raijor Dal president said that if Sarma believes in democracy, the Cabinet should have taken a decision for his release after he was elected to the Assembly.
Gogoi was arrested on 12 December, 2019, from Jorhat at the peak of the anti-CAA protests in the state as a “preventive measure” in view of the deteriorating law and order situation. The case was later handed over to the NIA.
NIA special judge Pranjal Das, after hearing a petition requesting permission to visit his family members in Guwahati and Jorhat and the people of Sivasagar constituency, had granted him parole for 48 hours on Friday afternoon.
The court allowed Gogoi to visit only his ailing mother in Jorhat and his son in Guwahati but asked him not to meet the people of his constituency due to the prevailing pandemic situation. He stepped out of the Gauhati Medical College and hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for various ailments, late on Friday night.
He spent the night at his rented residence in Guwahati with his wife and son who recently recovered from COVID-19.
“I could not sleep at all. My son is very sad and disturbed. I spent the entire night with him. I cannot take him with me as I am going in a police escort,” Gogoi told reporters outside his residence before leaving for Jorhat, over 300 kilometres from Guwahati.
Gogoi received a tumultuous welcome at his village and had an emotional reunion with his octogenarian mother Priyada Gogoi whom he met after two years and gave credits for his fighting and uncompromising spirit. Villagers lined up with ‘gamoshas‘ (traditional Assamese towels) along the road to his home and raised slogans in his support as he was escorted home amid tight security cover.
He shall spend the night with his mother and return to Guwahati on Sunday at the end of his parole.
“Ma (mother) is everything to me. She is a very progressive woman. I have seen her making innumerable sacrifices when our father was injured in an accident and later in raising us,” Gogoi told reporters at his home, with his arms around his mother.
Stating how his mother had led his election campaign, Gogoi said, “She has become a star campaigner. She doesn’t know public speaking, she is not a political activist but the way she spoke for me, she looked like someone capable of changing the course of politics.”
Gogoi said that four-time Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi, who resigned from the Assembly to join the BJP on 21 June, has committed a mistake for which the people will not forgive him.
“The people had elected him so that he could be their voice. For this betrayal of people’s trust, he will lose (if he seeks re-poll) even if he spends Rs 100 crore,” he said.
The Raijor Dal president said that he will hold discussions with the local people on a suitable candidate for the Mariani constituency. Gogoi, who contested and won from neighbouring Sivasagar seat, had filed nomination from Mariani also, but later withdrew it.
The peasant leader also expressed his gratitude to the people of his village and adjoining areas for always standing by him whenever any difficulty befell him.
“I also thank the people of Sivasagar with folded hands. You have elected me from behind bars and created history. I hope I can be free soon and serve you,” he said.
He is the first person in the state to be elected to the assembly from prison. Gogoi, who was allowed to attend the Legislative Assembly only for a day to take oath as an MLA in May, said that he would raise the problems of his constituency in the coming Budget session and work to get Sivasagar, the erstwhile capital of the Ahom dynasty, declared as a historic town.
On the new responsibility as an elected representative, the Raijor Dal chief said that he may have to change his path a bit, but he will never compromise on his principles and ideologies “even if the government kills me”.
The Raijor Dal president said that the government should provide monetary help to the tune of Rs 7,000 to Rs 10,000 for the next three to six months to families with no fixed salary.
On a personal front, Gogoi said that he was happy to share with all that his wife Geetashree Tamuly, a lecturer at a college in Guwahati, was awarded the PhD from IIT-Guwahati two days ago. “I came home to this piece of good news. The fact that she could complete her PhD in such difficult and troubled times makes me very happy,” he said.