SIVASAGAR: He could never turn up to campaign. Neither was a rally held anywhere in Sivasagar, nor was the money to woo voters. But, it was the people who rallied behind him, all for the past he carries along with him.
It was his mere past and a little effort from his octogenarian mother that fashioned the victory for peasant leader and Raijor Dal president Akhil Gogoi from Sibsagar constituency, the historic Ahom capital town in the Assam assembly elections.
Although he could neither be part of the government, nor a kingmaker, he salvaged the pride of the farmers community of Assam by winning a seat for them, when the students-backed Assam Jatiya Parishad drew a blank. Both the parties were floated in protest against the BJP government enacting the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Imprisoned since December 2019 with as many as 52 charges slapped upon him, Gogoi fought the elections from behind bars with only a few open letters that his voters read between the lines to make out what he wanted to mean.
Initially contesting from his home constituency Mariani as well as an independent because his party is yet to be recognised, Gogoi decided to withdraw “to facilitate the victory of at least one more non-BJP candidate” that paved the way for incumbent Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi’s narrow victory over Ramani Tanti today.
Unlike others, Gogoi hardly had to spend from his purse to campaign. Neither did he have the funds to do so, if one has to believe in the affidavit he filed with his nomination. Like hundreds turned out on the streets for door-to-door campaign on his behalf, hundreds contributed to financially support the campaign to elect “the voice of the people”.
“We raised a fund contributing ourselves as well as our well wishers to foot for the expenses during the campaign. There was no lavish rally or any gratification to woo voters. We just sought the blessings of the people visiting their homes and they spontaneously joined us,” one of the key campaigners said wishing anonymity because he is a government servant.
The firebrand peasant leader was at the time lodged at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital with multiple ailments.
Apart from his mother Priyoda Gogoi, who participated in a few campaign processions, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patekar and farmers’ leader Sandip Pandey joined the campaign for the activist leader.
Sources said the national leaders joined the campaign themselves without any invitation
Few youth leaders, including the firebrand Sringkhal Chaliha, and student leaders also campaigned at grassroots level stationing themselves in the remote villages.
His mother Priyoda this evening expressed gratitude on behalf of Akhil to the voters for electing him as their representative and said that she was sure that her son would never let the people down.