Ex-state home minister, Assam Accord signatory Bhrigu Phukan dies at 50

Former Assam Home minister Bhrigu Kumar Phukan passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi tonight following protracted illness. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

Phukan, 50, who was the AASU general secretary during 1979-85 and jointly spearheaded the Assam Movement with Prafulla Kumar Mahanta over the issue of Bangladeshi influx, was undergoing treatment at AIIMS for over three weeks after his health deteriorated due to jaundice.

Born in April 1956, Phukan, a graduate of Dibrugarh University, was one of the four signatories of the Assam Accord of 1985 along with Mahanta and then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In December 1985, he became Home minister at the age of 29 after the AGP swept the historic Assembly elections.

Phukan, however, fell out with Mahanta within years of the emergence of the AGP, and in February 1991 walked out long with Dinesh Goswami and (present AGP president) Brindaban Goswami to form the Natun Asom Gana Parishad (NAGP). The two factions united three years later and Phukan was appointed executive president of the Asom Gana Parishad.

He quit the AGP again in 1996 following differences with Mahanta and joined the NCP.

Elected for three consecutive terms from the prestigious Jalukbari constituency to the Assembly since 1985, Phukan lost as an NCP candidate to Himanta Biswa Sharma of the Congress, a student leader whom he had earlier groomed, in 2001.

Phukan, who returned to the AGP in 2004 and contested the Lok Sabha elections from Guwahati, was nominated for the forthcoming Assembly polls by the regional party, but he could not file his nomination papers due to his failing health.

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