Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi, who made history by winning Assembly polls from jail in 2021, on Sunday said he is not happy being a legislator compared to his activism days, when the former peasant leader could raise “people’s issues” more “directly and strongly”.
The first-time MLA from Sibsagar constituency also claimed that he is alone playing the role of opposition by criticising and protesting all the “anti-people” decisions of the government as other non-ruling parties have become “silent”.
“I am not happy with this post of MLA. I am an activist. I fight against all anti-people activities of the Government of India as well as the state government,” Mr Gogoi told PTI in an interview.
Raijor Dal, Gogoi’s political party, has been fighting against various issues such as corporatisation of resources of India, “fascist” atmosphere, and “communal and undemocratic spirit” of the government.
Asked specifically if there was more scope of fighting for people’s causes while being an activist and he was more happy during his earlier stint, Gogoi said: “Yes, definitely. I was more happy in the days of activism. Now, I am a legislator.
“In the Assam Assembly, I am the only opposition who fight against this communal BJP government. We have 51 opposition MLAs. But many of the oppositions voted in favour of BJP in Rajya Sabha and President elections.” When pointed out that the allegation was against him also that he had voted for BJP during the President’s election, the Independent MLA denied the charge and claimed that he has been fighting against the “BJP’s communal and casteist politics all along”.
Mr Gogoi had started his social life by starting the peasant organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and raised a series of issues relating to the farmers livelihood and settlement for almost two decades of this century.
He had filed a number of RTI applications and court cases on a range of issues, including land rights, and exposed a number of scams in Assam.
The former KMSS leader and the group had also led several protests and agitations, including against NHPC’s 2,000 MW Subansiri hydro power project, Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and toll gates on National Highways, across the state.
“I fought against all the concepts of the Government of India and BJP. I think all the MLAs of opposition are not fighting against this government strongly. I am alone fighting against this government boldly,” Mr Gogoi asserted.
Stating that a “very tough and critical game” is happening in the Assam Assembly, he claimed that he is trying to resist all the “anti-people” legislation brought by the treasury benches in the House.
“In all the sessions, I always fight against the communal spirit. In Assam, there are some anti-government, anti-Constitutional, anti-democratic works being done by the Government of Assam like the fake encounter and eviction against minority people,” Gogoi alleged.
When asked if he will contest again in 2026 as he is not happy being an MLA, the Raijor Dal chief said that election is a medium only where he can spread his ideology, thinking and works.
“I don’t think about the 2026 elections now, it’s far away… It’s a question of democracy and I shall definitely fight the 2026 elections against this communal BJP government,” he added.
Mr Gogoi expressed reluctance to give a direct reply to a query on his winability in 2026 in absence of the “emotion quotient” as he will be outside jail and campaigning physically.
“See, I am not a professional politician. I am just an activist. I am a simple man and I always fight against communal fascism and undemocratic works of governments. We are trying to restore the values of the Indian Constitution and Indian democracy.
“So, this question of winning or not winning is not a question for me. This is a question for the democracy of Assam,” he added.
Gogoi was arrested by the NIA in December 2019 for his alleged role in violent anti-CAA protests across the state. The NIA was investigating two cases of Gogoi and three of his associates related to anti-CAA violence.
While being in the jail, he formed Raijor Dal, contested 2021 Assembly polls as an Independent candidate from Sibsagar seat and won it by defeating BJP’s Surabhi Rajkonwari by a decisive 11,875 votes.
Mr Gogoi became the first Assamese to win an election remaining behind the bars without any physical campaigning. He also became the first in Assam Assembly to take oath as a prisoner MLA, coming from jail on a special permission by court.
Reminiscing his election victory, Gogoi said: “Actually, the history was made by the people only. The people of Assam, basically people from the Sibsagar constituency, made history. The educated people, politically conscious people came out to the street, went door-to-door and requested all the voters to vote for me.” He opined that the Assembly polls in Assam took place at a time when the state government had tried to “demolish all the democratic situation and brutally attacked the people’s movements”.
Referring to the widespread anti-CAA protests, Gogoi claimed that many leaders of the people’s movement compromised with the government and the public were in “despair” at that time.
“So at that time, the conscious people, conscious Assamese intellectuals, intelligentia and some activists from all India like Medha Patkar, Dr Sunilam and others came to Assam and appealed to the people of Sibsagar to vote for me.
“So, the 2021 Assam Assembly polls were historical elections. Because without the physical presence of a candidate, the people of Sibsagar voted for me and I won the elections. So, that was a history and a history of people’s movement,” he added. PTI TR RG RG
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