Gogoi’s Winning Formula
Erstwhile All India Congress President Debakanta Barua once famously told Indira Gandhi that the “Alis ( migrant Muslims) and coolies ( migrant tea estate workers)” would always keep the party in power in Assam. Years later, in 2006, Tarun Gogoi decided to alter the equation. Short of a majority after the Assam Assembly elections in 2006, he opted to join hands with 11 independent Bodo legislators rather than Ajmal’s AIUDF, which had won 10 seats. “Who is Badruddin Ajmal?” Gogoi had ungraciously retorted when asked about an alliance with AIUDF. Many viewed his move as politically astute. Besides pushing the demand for a separate Bodoland to the backburner, Gogoi also earned goodwill in tribal- dominated areas.
Reinforcing this position ahead of the 2011 polls, he advocated refugee status for Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants, winning wide support amid the two million Bengali Hindu voters. The gamble paid off, with the Congress winning an unprecedented 78 Assembly