Jailed anti Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) activist and MLA Akhil Gogoi is suffering from "psychological issues" and is being treated for "emotional imbalance and mental disease", Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in the Assembly on Monday.
Replying to a discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the Governor's address, Mr Sarma dismissed a request by the opposition Congress to allow Akhil Gogoi to attend the Assembly session but said that the government has not kept any negative view against anyone.
"He (Akhil Gogoi) was informed that he is not in a sound mental state. He is getting treatment for psychological issues. He is getting treatment for emotional imbalance and mental disease," the chief minister said.
Belittling an opposition colleague #AkhilGogoi as a psychiatric patient in the assembly was not only a parliamentary impropriety but was also in extremely bad taste coming from a CM. Are you aspiring to go to the next level ? A statesman @himantabiswa ??— Pradyut Bordoloi (@pradyutbordoloi) May 24, 2021
On May 21, the first day of the three-day session, the RTI activist-turned-politician came to the Assembly to take oath as an MLA after obtaining permission from a Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court. He is currently in judicial custody.
Himanta Biswa Sarma said, "He (Akhil Gogoi) came to the Assembly that day. Forgetting Covid protocol, he just went to every member inside the House. This is a pre-warning of a disease. The doctors of the GMCH told me that this is his disease. I asked the doctors that he looks healthy, so why have you kept him in the hospital? Is it to help him anyway? They said no sir, this is his disease."
Immediately after taking oath on Friday, Akhil Gogoi went to the seats of every minister, all ruling and opposition MLAs, and greeted each of them by either shaking hands or with folded hands. Every member reciprocated the gesture.
The chief minister questioned Congress MLA Bharat Narah how the Assembly can allow an unwell person to attend the House.
Mr Narah had on that day requested the Speaker to allow Akhil Gogoi to attend the other two days of the session.
The NIA had arrested Mr Gogoi in December 2019 for his alleged role in violent anti-CAA protests across the state. He was last year admitted to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) after testing positive for coronavirus and he continues to remain there for other ailments.
"The government has not kept any negative view against anyone. Questions were asked why Akhil Gogoi was brought in a bus? It's Covid time and if five security personnel come in a car, will Covid not spread? It's the government's responsibility to bring him in a spacious bus so that Covid protocols can be maintained," Mr Sarma said.
The chief minister said that if Akhil Gogoi says he is healthy, then he will have to go to jail as per the law and if he is unwell, then he has to be at the paying cabin of the GMCH without attending the Assembly.
"Now, who will take the decision? He asked the Speaker to write (to the authorities concerned for allowing him to attend the remaining two days of the session). Why will a Speaker write for an ill person? This is our government's view. From a law and order issue, he can come. But an unwell person cannot be exposed. That is why he is at GMCH," he added.
The Congress had also supported Akhil Gogoi's request and Mr Narah urged the Speaker to write to the administration to do the needful.
Following this, the Assembly Secretariat wrote to the Home and Political Department, which replied that Mr Gogoi may be advised to approach the NIA Court as his case is sub-judice.
If he is allowed to attend the Assembly, the court will ask every member of the medical board how he is roaming around despite being in a hospital, the chief minister said.
"So, I think we will get enough media to score political points. He came to me also, I asked him why he came to me. He did not leave a single table, everywhere he went. For a moment, I thought he came to spread Covid here. Later (Akhil Gogoi) said that there is no Covid where he is kept," Mr Sarma said.
Akhil Gogoi had reached the Assembly on May 21 in a heavily escorted bus from the GMCH, and he was allegedly manhandled by security personnel twice in the compound.
Speaker Biswajit Daimary had said on that day that he will raise the issue of alleged manhandling with the authorities concerned.
Akhil Gogoi, the chief of the newly formed Raijor Dal who defeated the BJP's Surabhi Rajkonwari from the Sibsagar constituency, is the first Assamese to win an election from behind the bars without any physical campaigning.