Tarun Gogoi was sworn in Assam Chief Minister for the third consecutive term on Wednesday. Governor Janaki Ballav Patnaik administered him the oath of office and secrecy at a brief function held at the Raj Bhavan here.
Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region B.K. Handique, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court Madan Bhimarao Lokur, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Bhubaneswar Kalita and senior party leaders, the newly elected legislators of the Congress and the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), and Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief and BPF president Hagrama Mahliary attended the function.
Mr. Gogoi told journalists after the ceremony that he would expand his Ministry after the criteria for representation were decided in consultation with the All-India Congress Committee leaders and the Congress leadership.
Mr. Gogoi, who will leave for New Delhi on Thursday, said he would urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily to allow Assam and other north-eastern States to increase the number of the ministries to accommodate various tribes and communities.
Now, Mr. Gogoi will have to choose 18 from among the 89 MLAs of the Congress and the Bodoland People's Front as the number of the ministers, including him, is limited to 19.
Asked about his priorities, Mr. Gogoi said development would remain a priority and it would be pursued faster. His government would encourage village industries to raise the income of rural people; address unemployment, poverty, illiteracy; boost agricultural and horticultural production; and help weavers and rural artisans enhance their income. As for the ongoing peace process with various outfits, including the United Liberation Front of Asom, he said things were moving in the right direction, and he was optimistic that some kind of solution would be found soon to bring permanent peace to the State.
He attributed the Congress's landslide to the matured decision of the people, especially the poor voters in rural and urban areas, who wanted the development works initiated by the Congress-led government over the past 10 years to continue. “People have not voted us for our speeches; they have seen us perform. They have seen our sincerity. They have seen more roads, bridges coming up over the past five years, welfare measures undertaken for the poor, government employees paid salaries regularly. This poll outcome showed that the people of Assam are politically highly conscious, aware of their social and economic responsibilities.”
Though all Opposition parties and even social activists were united against the Congress, the people rejected them because they did not have any definite welfare agenda.
Mr. Gogoi, 77, graduated from J.B. College, Jorhat, and took his law degree from Gauhati University. He won his first election in 1971, to the fifth Lok Sabha. He has been elected to the Lok Sabha six times. He served as the Union Minister for Food (independent charge) from 1991-93 and Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industry (independent charge) from 1993-95.
He became the Chief Minister for the first time on May 17, 2001, after he led his party to an absolute majority, dethroning the second Asom Gana Parishad government of Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. He became the Chief Minister for the second consecutive term in 2006, as the head of the Congress-BPF coalition.