GUWAHATI, April 12 (IANS) - Claiming that the Congress would form the government for the third straight term, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Tuesday said he was the "best chief minister" in the state's history for being able to bring almost all militant groups to the negotiating table.
"I am saying with 30 years of political experience that the Congress party would come to power without any doubt and we are surely forming the next government comfortably," the chief minister told reporters, a day after the second and final phase of assembly elections in 64 of the 126 constituencies.
"I can say with hands on my heart that I am the best chief minister of Assam as it was during my tenure in the last 10 years that we have been able to bring peace to the state," the chief minister said.
"Can anybody could have ever dreamt or imagined Arabinda Rajkhowa (chairman of ULFA, the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom) sitting with me and presenting me traditional souvenirs," the chief minister said, referring to the initiation of the ULFA-government peace talks.
"And the best part is that some former BLT (Bodoland Liberation Tigers) members are now ministers in my cabinet."
The BLT surrendered en masse following the Bodo Accord in 2003 and later formed the Bodoland People's Front (BPF), a political party who is an alliance partner of the ruling Congress in Assam since 2006.
"And let me tell you even the elusive Paresh Baruah (ULFA commander-in-chief opposed to the peace talks) would have to come to me one day and join the peace process," Gogoi said.
He rubbished claims of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) that they would would form the next government. "All their analysis and assessment will go awfully wrong. and I am more then confident of forming the government once again," Gogoi said.
"We are getting about 25 to 30 seats and I am sure it would be a government formed by the opposition," BJP state president Ranjit Dutta said.
"We are forming the next government as people of Assam voted for change," AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary said.
The AGP and the BJP had no pre-poll alliance, but are pinning their hopes of reaching the magic number of 64 between the two parties and support from smaller regional players and independent candidates in the 126-member Assembly.
Counting of votes take place May 13.