Assam’s Roy family: Congress veteran on BJP ticket, kin as Independents

Gautam Roy, 72, is a former Congressman who represented Katlicherra constituency in Hailakandi district no less than six times (1986-2015). This time he is contesting on a BJP ticket from Katigorah, while his son Rahul (another former Congress MLA, from Algapur in 2006) and daughter-in-law Daisy are contesting as Independents from Udharbond and Algapur, respectively.

Dynasties are not uncommon in Indian politics, but few compare in Assam to the colourful billionaire family of Gautam Roy. This Assembly election, three members of the Roy family, including the septuagenarian MLA himself, are in the fray, contesting from different constituencies in Barak Valley. The region votes on April 1.

Roy, 72, is a former Congressman who represented Katlicherra constituency in Hailakandi district no less than six times (1986-2015). This time he is contesting on a BJP ticket from Katigorah, while his son Rahul (another former Congress MLA, from Algapur in 2006) and daughter-in-law Daisy are contesting as Independents from Udharbond and Algapur, respectively.

Earlier, Roy’s father Santosh Kumar Roy had represented the Katlicherra seat from 1972 to 78.

While currently the family’s worth (their assets add up to nearly Rs 136 crore) is a talking point in Silchar, Roy has made news several times before in his nearly four-decade-long political career.

“He is not popular in the conventional sense, but he often makes polarising comments which grab eyeballs. And there are allegations of massive corruption against him too,” says a veteran local journalist in Silchar, who does not wish to be named. “But one good thing about him is that he helps anyone in need in Katlicherra — be it someone sick or poor —-financially.”

Roy is believed to have been introduced to politics by the late Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev, a seven-time parliamentarian. Soon he would become the most known politician after Dev in Barak. In the state government, Roy would hold Cabinet portfolios like social welfare and public health engineering.

In 2019, after Roy was suspended from the Congress for “anti-party activities”, he joined the BJP.

While his entire political career was based in Hailakandi district, this time Roy is fighting from Katigorah constituency in Cachar district. “It was the BJP’s decision,” says Mridul Mazumder, Roy’s election manager, who has worked with him for 22 years. “But we are hopeful we will win. People support Gautam Roy not just because of the party but because of who he is as a person. One cannot be an MLA for 30 years just like that.”

Mazumder says Roy left the Congress because he was unhappy with the senior leadership and the party’s policies. “He wanted to work for the people and that is possible only with the BJP,” says Mazumder.

Roy was not available for comment.

Before Rahul and Daisy followed Roy into politics, his wife Mandira had won from Algapur seat on Congress ticket in a by-election in 2013.

 

 

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