Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

‘BJP attempting to turn India into an authoritar­ian state’

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GUWAHATI: In his 10-year-stint as a MP, Gaurav Gogoi has emerged out of his father, former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi’s shadow and made a mark as a well-informed and aggressive politician who can raise issues with conviction both inside as well as outside the Lok Sabha. In an interview to Utpal Parashar, the 41-year-old, who is contesting from Jorhat, speaks on his campaign. Edited excerpts:

It’s a switch this time from your old seat Kaliabor (now renamed Kaziranga)... How has the campaign been in Jorhat and what has been the response from voters?

The response is fantastic. All sections, old and young, have come out (to support me). Kaliabor has ceased to exist due to last year’s delimitati­on and people wanted me to contest from any of the three seats, Kaziranga, Jorhat and Nagaon. I told that to my party and they thought I should contest from Jorhat.

Your late father had represente­d Jorhat thrice in the

Lok Sabha. Do you think that legacy will help you ?

Since Jorhat is the home town of my father and he represente­d the seat in Lok Sabha and was also an MLA from the district, there’s a deep personal connection. Voters in Jorhat are new to me, and they will want to know how I will work. I tell them that my ethics and ideals are the same as my father’s.

We have seen many senior Congress leaders in Assam leaving the party. What do you think plagues the party in the state?

The BJP is using agencies like Income Tax and ED to blackmail and intimidate everyone, including political opponents, media houses or big corporate entities. We see the BJP extorting money from corporates through electoral bonds using coercive measures... It’s the same with political opponents and student activists.I find this is an attempt of BJP to turn India into an authoritar­ian, single party state.

You are the most vocal voice from the northeast in Lok Sabha. What are the main issues in the region ?

The first is Manipur, where the state government has completely lost its authority. Undergroun­d outfits are active once again, sophistica­ted weapons are being sold openly in the markets, children belonging to the Kuki community are still unable to resume their studies in Imphal and many Meitei families are unable to resume their normal lives. Secondly, I find home minister Amit Shah’s efforts in curbing smuggling of all kinds of illegal goods from across the borders to be ineffectiv­e. Thirdly, I don’t understand the BJP logic of CAA not being applicable in tribal areas in northeast and applicable in other parts.

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