NEW DELHI: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who was in the Union Cabinet then, had written a letter to Prime Minister Narasimha Rao after the Babri mosque demolition saying he should not have allowed this to happen but got no response.
Gogoi mentions this in his autobiography "Turnaround: Leading Assam from the Front", which chronicles his life in politics. Gogoi, who was the Union Minister of State (independent charge) for Food and then the Minister of State (independent charge) for Food Processing Industry in the Narasimha Rao Cabinet from 1991, describes Rao as a modern man who initiated several reforms during his tenure.
"However, Rao did not have a hold over his party. I feel the way he handled the Babri mosque demolition was not appropriate. Breaking all conventions as a minister, I even wrote a letter telling him that he should not have allowed this to happen. He should have taken the leaders of the minority community into confidence. I was very critical as the demolition alienated the minorities from us. However, he did not respond to my letter," he writes in the book, published by HarperCollins India.
Seeking a fourth consecutive term, Gogoi says he is no magician and has no magic wand but he can look back with satisfaction to his 15 years of governance though he does not claim to have scored a ten on ten.
In his memoir, the veteran Congressman says he wants history to judge these years. "Can I look back in satisfaction today? In a sense, I would say yes. I do not claim to have score a ten on ten. All I say that a lot of ground has been covered. Records will substantiate the fact that I have not made any tall claims," he writes in the book.
He goes on to say, "I am no magician and have no magic wand. I do not have solutions to change things overnight. Nor do I claim to have superior abilities. History has produced statesmen and visionaries who have steered nations and written their destinies for generations to learn from.
"In the big picture, I am but a dwarf and my efforts are Lilliputian. That they have made a difference is because the people have supported me and the electorate has reposed faith in me."
Gogoi first became the chief minister in 2001. Insurgency was at its peak, and brutal killings dominated headlines. Government employees were not paid salaries for months together. He claims his three consecutive terms have changed the Assam story. He says when the history of Assam is penned, his three-term tenure will show up both positives as well as negatives. "There will be bouquets and brickbats, criticism and acclaim. But I will leave history to judge these years."
According to 81-year-old Gogoi, his greatest regret in life is "not meeting Mahatma Gandhi in person, although he was and will always be an integral part of my life, as in the case with millions of other Indians".
Having worked closely with Indira Gandhi and her sons, he says Rajiv was exactly the opposite of his brother Sanjay.
"Sanjay Gandhi liked to micromanage. He made it a point to always say why and how he wanted things done. Rajivji, on the other hand, gave freedom and did not spoon feed. He encouraged those who worked with him to take decisions. He believed in their ability to lead," writes Gogoi.
He says he belongs to that breed to politicians who dare to decide, who do not dither and who often take firm and hard decisions. "I am among those who are willing to bear the brunt of consequences. Therefore, even though I inherited a crown of thorns, I was willing to wear it and walk, with the words 'no problem' ringing loud and clear in my mind."