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[April 06, 2014]
Assam newcomer trys to create identity beyond family name [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]
(Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Guwahati: Gaurav Gogoi, son of the current chief minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi, does not want to be disqualified from joining active politics just because of his family name.
Speaking exclusively to Gulf News, this newcomer in politics, who is now a candidate of the Indian National Congress (INC), is working diligently with the grass roots, trying to create an identity for himself.
"I am not only my father's son, I am also my mother's son Dolly Gogoi, and everyone seems to forgo that since my father is the chief minister," said Gogoi, who quit his high-paying job with a major Indian telecom company before joining politics.
"Before joining the Congress party, I considered all political parties, their ideologies and their leadership. The only party I could relate closely to in terms of ideology and acceptability was the Congress party. I like Congress for its forward-looking agenda and ambitious thinking for the underprivileged and the middle class. That's why I chose Congress party, as I found its inclusive policies bearing close to my personal believe," said the 31-year-old, who wants to work for the youth in the rural areas of Assam.
Gogoi, who is contesting from the Koliabor parliamentary constituency, one of the most ethnically-diverse regions in the state, has been nurturing his constituency for the past three years with entrepreneurship workshops for the local youth and a farm-to-food programme.
During this time, he has been dedicated to working in Jorhat, promoting organic farming and sustainable livelihoods for the people.
He wants to focus on rural development, and he believes his work with a Delhi-based non-profit organisation has helped him shape his views on the issue.
"I worked with young people on issues of social justice. The organisation helped me connect with the rural youth in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand. I stayed with them, slept on floors, cooked for myself. I designed and facilitated experiential educational programmes on livelihood generation, organic farming, water management and social disparities," he said.
"Like everyone else's, my school St Columbus School in Delhi built the value system in me. [The] engineering curriculum taught me to be analytical and look for logic and reasoning. Then the two years of studying Public Administration from New York University, trained me to understand how development projects are executed in western countries," he said.
Gogoi said he wants to use his learning and his expertise in governance for the development of the people of his state.
"Joining politics is a part of that learning curve; I want to use the experience and knowledge I attained to understand the people and their problems. I spent time in traveling, empathising with my own people and the governance of the Congress government. Hence my decision to join politics became even stronger after my observation and learning," said Gogoi, who had a brief stint as a policy aide with the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York, and then returned in 2011 to work with his father for the 2011 state elections.
"I have my expertise in finding quick solutions to local problems; my father's guidance is helping me see the larger picture of politics and policy. politics is a means for me to govern, so that I can be a part of the policy making, represent the people and see if their demands are met or not. I believe today even in rural areas you cannot fool people and win their votes, today people want their legislature to connect to them and work for them, this is exactly what I want too, stay with them and work for them," he said.
Another area of interest for the would-be parliamentarian is to ensure that the history of the North Eastern people is included in the history syllabus of schools throughout India.
"It is true that somehow the people of India get to know very little [about North Eastern people] and even as an individual, I have written to the various committees to ensure that our history is included in the education system, which will help in preventing this perceived alienation," he said.
However, there is a distinct difference between the father and the son, where the latter is known for his polished, soft-spoken corporate approach, and senior Gogoi, for his strong aggressive, political rhetoric.
"My father has been in politics even before my parents were married. His stand is bound to be very different from me, since his ability to connect with the people is far greater, which comes with success, experience and most importantly belief in the people, generally associated with a mass leader. I am extremely proud of him," he said.
When Gaurav was born in 1982, his father was already a member of parliament. As an 11-year-old, he saw his father becoming a Central minister and before he turned 19, Tarun Gogoi became chief minister of Assam.
Junior Gogoi believes that he is at a learning stage, where he needs to listen more and learn.
"My job is to understand the key demands of the people, ensure they feel that they can connect with me. Though I do stand by my convictions, it is important to learn from these interaction and them try to implement them in governance," said the enthusiastic campaigner.
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