Pranab Gogoi – The Man who initiated steps for ‘Assamese’ definition

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Former Assam Legislative Assembly Speaker and sitting Sivasagar MLA Pranab Kumar Gogoi passed away at a private hospital in Guwahati on Monday.

The Man who initiated steps for ‘Assamese’ definition

In 2015, the issue of defining an Assamese came to the fore in a bigger way, as the state assembly under the aegis of the then Assam Assembly Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi debated the matter in an approach to implementing various clauses of the Assam Accord, Clause 6 of which highlights “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

THE ASSAMESE CONUNDRUM

The issue of determining the definition of the “Assamese People” triggered an uproarious scene in the Assam Assembly with the ruling Congress and the Opposition All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) members raising objection to Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi recording his recommendation to the State government on the definition in the records of the House proceedings. They raised objection on the ground that the Speaker had not consulted the legislators and political parties to firm up the definition of the “Assamese People”. Gogoi had taken the bold step to define what the two words “Assamese People” exactly meant.

The Speaker recommended, after consultations with 53 different organisations, that the year 1951 be taken as the cut off period and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951, be taken as the basis for the definition of the “Assamese People” for the purpose of reservation of seats and constitutional safeguards as required by the Assam Accord.

This definition is required to implement the Clause six of the Assam Accord which promises that “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese People.”

PERSONAL PROFILE

He is the eldest son of Late Girindra Nath Gogoi, former minister in Late Bimala Prasad Chaliha’s Cabinet, and Late Hiranyalata Gogoi. He was born on August 19, 1936 in Dibrugarh. He is survived by his wife Mohini Gogoi, three sons and their spouses and grandchildren, besides a host of relatives. He was the elder brother of Professor Prabin Kumar Gogoi, former Secretary of SEBA (Board of Secondary Education, Assam) and the AHSEC (Assam Higher Secondary Education Council).

He was an advocate by profession and made it to the State Assembly as an MLA in the term 2001-2006. From 2006-2011, he was the Minister of Law, Legislative, Sericulture etc, and from 2011-2016 he was the Speaker of the Assam Legislative Assembly. He was also a member of the House Inquiry Committee on Ethics, the Committee of Subordinate Legislation, the Amenities Commission of the Assam Legislative Assembly, besides holding various other important posts.

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