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Gaurav Gogoi, Deputy Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha and a Member of the Con- gress Working Committee, entered politics with reluctance despite his father, Tarun Gogoi, having served a three-term Chief Minister of Assam.
Holding an electrical engineering degree and a master’s degree in public administration from New York Uni- versity, he worked at Airtel in the mid- 2000s before joining the Delhi-based NGO ‘Pravah.’ His political journey began in 2012 when his father per- suaded him to step into the political arena. Despite his initial hesitation, Gogoi has rapidly climbed the ranks within the Congress party. Transition- ing from being a member of the CWC, he now holds the position of Deputy Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha. His party has entrusted him with sig- nificant responsibilities, showcasing his swift ascent in a relatively short period.
In an exclusive conversation with Abhijit Deb of The Statesman, Gogoi provides insights into the INDIA alliance, the Congress party, and his own political journey.
Q. How do you look at the prospects of the INDIA Alliance in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls against the backdrop of setbacks for the Congress in state Assem- bly polls?
A: After Congress faced defeats in recent state assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party may view the 2024 elections as a sure win, but vari- ous challenges may alter this percep- tion. Issues such as unemployment, corruption, media suppression, judi- cial interference, and civil society restrictions have shifted public senti- ment. The INDI Alliance, leveraging these concerns, plans to emphasise them in the upcoming elections, which is evident in Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.
Q. Will the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra reap dividends for Con- gress in 2024 LS elections?
A: Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, despite not primarily aiming for electoral gains, resonates with people as it addresses the impact of current policies on soci- etal harmony. The Yatra has garnered substantial response, as seen in Kar- nataka and other state elections, indi- cating a positive reception to its mes- sage of unity, peace, and the rejection of hatred prevalent under the present regime.
Q. How do you iron out the issues like seat sharing faced by INDIA bloc ?
A: Concerning electoral logistics, the INDIA alliance is navigating chal- lenges such as seat sharing. Talks are ongoing, and a committee, led by for- mer CMs of Rajasthan and Chhattis- garh, is engaging with alliance part- ners to finalise agreements. The alliance aims to formulate a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) reflect- ing shared goals for economic, social, and political welfare.
Q. Is there any discussion on the PM face of INDIA alliance?
A: Regarding the face of the alliance for the Prime Ministerial position, no discussions have occurred. The focus remains on collective issues, with seat sharing based on each party’s strength in respective states.
Q. What will Rahul Gandhi’s role be in the INDIA alliance and in the upcoming Lok Sabha elec- tions?
A: Rahul Gandhi is expected to play a crucial role in the alliance and the upcoming elections, emphasising the erosion of people’s rights under the current government. Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra serves as a platform to raise awareness about the weakening of independent institutions, media, and judiciary.
Q. Regarding your personal political career, is there a school of thought that the Congress needs you in Assam now after your father?
A: Addressing personal political aspi- rations, there is no endorsement of the narrative suggesting the Congress party needs a figure like me in Assam after my father’s departure. Party responsibilities are undertaken based on the party’s needs, and at present my commitment remains towards serving the Congress, following in the footsteps of the late Tarun Gogoi. In a very short span of time, the party has given me many responsibilities and I will try my best to perform duties with all my abilities.
Q. Why are you taking on Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma directly on many fronts?
A: Taking on Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma directly is seen as an Opposition leader’s duty. I am raising concerns about personal wealth accumulation and alleged land conversions.
Q. Home Minister Amit Shah has said recently that the Citi- zenship Amendment Act (CAA) will be notified before the Lok Sabha elections. What are your thoughts on this?
A: As for Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent statement about notifying CAA before the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress advocates a national refugee law, asserting that the CAA is a divisive tool used by the BJP for electoral gain