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Congress rode on peace, development

Peace and its byproduct, development, pay dividends. The Congress third straight electoral win proved just that.

india Updated: May 14, 2011 21:44 IST

Peace and its byproduct, development, pay dividends. The Congress third straight electoral win proved just that.

Ever since he assumed power in May 2001, Tarun Gogoi had harped on the significance of peace. “Peace is my priority, and once we achieve that, development will follow automatically,” was his pet statement.

Gogoi’s government took a series of development initiatives especially during the second term. It focused on the rural sector given the state’s primarily agrarian economy. But, Gogoi insists, “we have a long way to go, and with this verdict our responsibility has got bigger.”

Mandate 2011 showed the Congress’ focus on striking peace deals with myriad militant outfits – the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) primarily – worked.

The Congress realized it could not contain militancy by using force. So it adopted the carrot-and-stick policy, sending feelers to the leaders of Ulfa and other outfits. Things started looking up since 2009 when several top guns were arrested in Bangladesh paving ways for subsequent peace initiative with the Centre.

The success of Congress also depended on the managerial and troubleshooting skills of health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. He helped the Congress dribble out of adversities – this included alleged involvement in a tribal council scam worth Rs 1000 crore – and come up with an answer to almost everything the opposition hurled.

Sarma’s handling of the Congress’ allegedly corruption-prone and “often unmanageable” ruling ally, the Bodoland People’s Front, also seemed to have worked.