GUWAHATI, Aug 5 � Paying rich tributes to Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi on his 61st death anniversary today, a number of eminent personalities emphasized the need to emulate the ideals that Assam�s first Chief Minister stood for. His Gandhian principles, selfless service, and integrity, were among the virtues which set him apart, and which should motivate the people of not just Assam but the entire North East of India, they said.
According to Ranjit Sekhar Mooshahary, the Governor of Meghalaya, Gopinath Bardoloi was to the North-east what Nehru was to India. He was loved and respected widely by people of the hills and plains as he believed in the idea of accommodation rather than assimilation. Possessing ample foresight, he ensured that every community in Assam could possess enough space to maintain their identity.
Bardoloi, Mooshahary said, was responsible for shaping the post independence history of Assam to a large extent. It was because of his role that Assam could become a part of India, and not a part of East Pakistan.
Describing Bardoloi as a multifaceted personality, the Meghalaya Governor referred to him as a cricketer among politicians, who was highly respected for his integrity and principled approach to politics. �He never acted with an eye on the next elections�unlike many other politicians,� Mooshahary mentioned.
He was of the view that Bardoloi in his short tenure as a Chief Minister nevertheless contributed a lot to the welfare of Assam and its people. He had set an example of being a true leader, which the present generation should follow.
However, Mooshahary expressed his regret over Assam�s inability to be a leader in economic development even though it was the mother state of the entire North-east. Referring to Government statistics recently carried in the media, he said that Assam�s per capita income was the lowest among the states of the Northeast, and also lower than the national average.
The Meghalaya Governor, who was the chief guest in the function organised by the Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi Nyas, urged the people of Assam to draw inspiration from a leader like Bardoloi and protest corruption and injustice in all forms so that peace and progress could become sustainable.
In her address, senior Gandhian and social worker Hema Bharali recalled Bardoloi as a towering personality who has not been remembered in a deserving way. �We have not done enough to perpetuate his memory, and the young generation is yet to be acquainted with his true personality,� she remarked.
Recalling him as a leader loved by the masses, she added that apart from being a freedom fighter and patriot, Bardoloi was a sportsman, a singer, and a builder of ties with the different communities of Assam. Bharali stated that the Trust in his name, and the public should join hands to create something that would help commemorate Assam�s first Chief Minister in a befitting manner.
According to academic and writer Dinesh Baishya, Gopinath Bardoloi played a pivotal role in determining the fate of Assam at the time India was about to gain independence. He read out a letter written by Mahatma Gandhi to Bardoloi that endorsed the decision that Assam should be able to forge its own destiny.
As a political leader he was influential in taking legal steps against migrants from East Pakistan occupying huge tracts of land and also making European tea planters pay income tax. He was equally bold in taking action against the use of opium and supported a programme to stop its use among the people of Assam.
Senior Congress party leader Dr Bhumidhar Barman, speaking on the occasion, portrayed Bardoloi as a leader who was liberal and his outlook and committed to the welfare of people from diverse backgrounds. A person like Sardar Patel called him a great leader, and others of his time acknowledged his role as a builder of modern Assam.