- Ex-Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi died at the age of 86 on Monday
- "He was my guru, explained to me what Assam is," Rahul Gandhi said
- Mr Gandhi reached Guwahati on Wednesday afternoon on a special flight
He was my guru, my teacher, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said after paying floral tribute to former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who passed away at the age of 86 due to multiple organ failure on Monday.
"He was like my guru, my teacher. He explained to me like nobody can what Assam is all about. Gaurav is his son, but he treated me like his own son as well. When I used to talk to him, I used to feel like I am not talking to an individual but to the entire state. With him, we have also lost Ahmed Patel ji. They were the pillars of the (Congress) party and it is a very sad day for us," Rahul Gandhi told reporters in Guwahati.
On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi rushed to Guwahati for a two-hour visit before heading to Delhi. Upon arrival around 9.35 am, he went straight to Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, where Mr Gogoi's body has been kept for people to pay their last respect.
He also visited Mr Gogoi's family, including wife Dolly and son Gaurav Gogoi, at their official residence in Guwahati. Gaurav Gogoi is a Lok Sabha MP from Assam.
"His demise was a personal loss to me. Gogoi ji was not just a leader of Assam, he was a national leader... a formidable chief minister. He inspired us by uniting the people of Assam and bringing peace to the state... When I first came to Assam, I was young and roaming freely that I know everything. Then I sat with Gogoi ji and he taught me humility in five minutes... He was the guru who taught his students the art of politics well. So, it won't be tough for us to fight in Assam," Mr Gandhi added.
Wednesday was the second time Mr Gandhi had referred to Tarun Gogoi as a teacher after his death on Monday.
Shri Tarun Gogoi was a true Congress leader. He devoted his life to bringing all the people and communities of Assam together.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 23, 2020
For me, he was a great and wise teacher. I loved and respected him deeply.
I will miss him. My love and condolences to Gaurav & the family. pic.twitter.com/jTMfSyAJ6J
Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who had been battling for his life with post-Covid complications in a hospital for weeks, died on November 23. A three-day state mourning was announced in his Mr Gogoi's honour as tributes poured in from leaders across political parties.
In his extensive political career in the Congress, spanning four decades, he saw the party go through a lot of tectonic shifts, turmoil and three generations of the Gandhi family - Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Mr Gogoi was a trained lawyer, and was handpicked by Indira Gandhi to lead the Youth Congress in 1971. He grew to be a close confidant of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and was a Union Minister twice between 1991and 1995. He was also the member of the fifth, sixth, seventh, tenth, twelfth, and thirteenth Lok Sabha.
When Mrs Gandhi's son Rajiv Gandhi took charge as the Prime Minister of India, the same day she was assassinated, Mr Gogoi was beside him and remained a close confidante. He held the fort as a Union Minister in 1991 when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and returned to Assam politics only at the party's command to help march it to victory in 2001.
With Mr Gogoi's death before the Assam Assembly elections 2021, Congress insiders are hoping for his son, Gaurav Gogoi - believed to share cordial relations with Rahul Gandhi - to take a centre stage in the state polls.
In the days before he tested positive for COVID-19, Tarun Gogoi is said to have been in talks for formation of a Grand Alliance of all opposition parties in Assam.
Mr Gogoi will be cremated at Nabagraha crematorium in Guwahati on Thursday afternoon instead of his hometown Titabor.
"As per Mr Gogoi's wish, his body will be taken to a temple, a mosque and a church before the last rites," Congress state chief Ripun Bora had earlier said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)