Former Assam Chief Minister and seven-time MLA, Dr Bhumidhar Barman, passed away Sunday evening in a private hospital in Guwahati after prolonged illness. He was 90.
The government of Assam has declared a three-day state mourning.
Dr Barman held the post of Chief Minister between April 1996 and May 1996 following the death of former CM Hiteshwar Saikia, and later in 2010, when former CM late Tarun Gogoi was on leave on medical grounds. Dr Barman, a graduate of the Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh, has represented the Lower Assam constituencies of Nalbari West, Dharmapur and Barkhetry.
“Anguished by the passing away of former Assam CM and senior politician, Shri Bhumidhar Barman. My thoughts are with his family and supporters in this hour of grief,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted from his official handle on Sunday evening.
The Assam state Congress in a condolence statement said that Dr Barman was a father-figure for them. “A believer of simple living, Dr Barman was not just an able politician but also an accomplished doctor,” the statement said.
Dr Barman, who survived at least three attacks by the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in the 1990s, was involved in a number of conflict resolution efforts in Assam. “He was one of the most active senior politicians of the state,” said senior Congress leader and MP, Nagaon, Pradyut Bordoloi, “He understood the social fabric and demography of Assam well.” Bordoloi added that Dr Barman was a “die hard ‘Congressee’ and that “he bravely bore the brunt of ultras and extremists during his career.”
While his tenure as Chief Minister both times was brief, he served as a Cabinet Minister, holding important portfolios such as Health, Education and Revenue in the Hiteswar Saikia and Tarun Gogoi governments.
Congress leaders said that Dr Barman suffered from chronic diabetes, and was in the hospital since March. His son, Diganta Barman, is contesting on a Congress ticket from Barkhetry.
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal condoled the death and wrote in a statement that Assam had lost an “experienced and capable politician with the death of Dr Barman and the people of Assam will always remember his committed service and contributions to the state.”
Health, Finance and Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted: “Today we lost a stalwart of Assam politics – former CM and 7-time MLA Late Bhumidhar Barman. I have fond memories of his guidance and affection, starting with my early political career. He leaves behind a rich legacy of good politics & work. We shall miss him. My condolences.”