Friday, March 1, 2024

Sans opposition, Congress has a smooth ride in Assam

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Guwahati: With opposition weak and in a shambles and greater thrust on peace and development, the Congress-led government seems to have a smooth ride ahead in Assam as it completes an unbroken run of 11 years in power.

When the Congress government came to power in 2001, it inherited a host of problems. There was no money to pay for the salaries of government employees, law and order problems were at their peak, and the electricity situation was deplorable, among other issues.

Eleven years later, the Congress government, led by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, has not only regularised the salaries of state employees but also ensured peace in all regions and development in almost all spheres of the state.

The improvement in the law and order situation can be gauged from the fact that only 29 civilians were killed in the state in 2011 as compared to 400 in 2001.

Besides, the Gogoi government has been able to bring to the negotiating table almost all militant outfits in the state barring a faction of the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) led by Paresh Baruah and a lesser-known outfit, Karbi Peoples’ Liberation Tigers (KPLT).

Although the state exchequer was in a bad shape in 2001, the Congress-led government has been able to strengthen the resources to a large extent. The per capita income in the state has gone up to Rs.37,481 as compared to Rs.13,962 in 2001.

“The government has been able to ensure development. However, more is needed in terms of rural development, agriculture, employment generation and education,” said Dilip Chandan, editor of Assamese weekly broadsheet Asom Bani.

“Congress came to power in the state when the central government was introducing lots of new schemes for rural development and health sector. I agree that the state government has done a lot, but still there is lot to be done,” he said. Chandan pointed out that although the government has brought militant outfits to the negotiating table, the initiative was not moving ahead at the required pace.

Delay in resolving such problems might create new problems, he said.

Assam’s industry representatives also echoed similar sentiments and said more had to be done so that the state could march ahead along with other states.

“The government has given relief to the tea industry by initiating many schemes such as inclusion of health infrastructure in the tea estates under the NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) and ensuring safe drinking water for tea estate workers. These cut down the social cost of the industry,” said North East Tea Association (NETA) chairman Bidyananda Barkakoty.

“There are many issues like unemployment, infiltration from Bangladesh and implementation of the Assam Accord,” said Purna Kanta Bora, a school teacher in Guwahati.

“Although 27 years have passed since the signing of the historical accord, the porous Indo-Bangla border is yet to be sealed and this has led to unabated infiltration from Bangladesh. The problem in Assam is that there is virtually no opposition party. Opposition parties have failed to raise the issues such as price rise of essential commodities.” (IANS)

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