Sunday, March 6, 2011

Flurry of foundation stones

The assembly election bugle has been blown in Assam and the entire state is gripped by poll fever now.  The situation in Barak Valley is also no different with speculations rife about the prospective outcome of the polls in the 15 legislative assembly constituencies in the region.
All the leading political parties also realise that the sentiments, aspirations and demands of the people of the three Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi are different from the other parts of the state. Therefore, both state and national level leaders are making a beeline for the valley addressing public rallies as well as internal party meetings.
While Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, State Congress President Bhubaneshwar Kalita, All India Congress Committee General Secretary Digvijay Singh and Central Minister Subodh Kant Sahai have toured the valley from the ruling Congress party, BJP has also sent many bigwigs to the region such as national party President Nitin Gadkari, BJP’s Assam in-charge Varun Gandhi and TV actor turned politician Smriti Irani.   
However, amidst the din and bustle of the campaigning, what is standing out is the ‘foundation stone laying spree’ of the government. Foundation stones have been laid for at least a dozen hi profile development projects in the three districts and the process was on till the last day before the election code of conduct was enforced in the state earlier this month.
The ruling Congress party has tried its best to make up for its misrule of the last one decade by announcing a slew of projects for the valley, undoubtedly one of the most backward regions in the country.
While Tarun Gogoi laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Barak Valley Engineering College at Malua near Badarpur and the much awaited Silchar bypass road project from Ramnagar, his cronies, I mean, ministers from the valley have announced the beginning of work of many hospitals, Industrial Training Institiutes, school buildings, road projects and so on.  
The launching of such mega projects in the region is welcome, but we must analyse the present state of the projects which are already under implementation in different parts of the valley, before we cast our valuable vote. How many road projects announced during the last polls have been completed, how many hospitals announced then are operational now and how many government schemes have actually reached the grassroots? The answers, I am sure, will not be very encouraging.
Moreover, why these hi profile launches were kept for the pre poll season only? After all, if the government was so keen to develop the region, they could have implemented these projects long back. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) had handed over the Silchar by-pass project to Assam PWD way back in 2006 apparently because they had too much work load. Why did it take the state government five years to start the work? Similarly, the demand for an engineering college in the Karimganj district is also at least a decade old. Why has the launch of the college come so late?
Can the Chief Minister assure the people of the valley that the new projects announced by him and his government will not fall prey to the now familiar problems that plague almost all development projects in the state? Can he assure us that these projects will not suffer due to time overruns, cost escalations, poor quality of construction and unwarranted political involvement? Perhaps not and this is where the people of the valley need to be circumspect and vigilant.
The situation in Barak Valley is not optimistic because there is a huge leadership vacuum in the political ranks. The Congress and the BJP do not have one leader of conviction and integrity and more depressingly, in the last almost 65 years of independent India, we have not produced a single political force which only speaks and fights for the interest of the valley.
So, will Barak Valley succumb to these false political enticements given by the ruling party or chart a different political path for itself, only time will tell. Till then watch out for this space.
No. and name of Assembly Constituency
Name of the Elected Member
Party affiliation (If any)
1-Ratabari (SC)
Sambhu Sing Mallah
Bharatiya Janata Party
Kartiksena Sinha
Bharatiya Janata Party (Has now joined congress)
3-Karimganj North
Mission Ranjan Das
Bharatiya Janata Party
4-Karimganj South
Siddeque Ahmed
Independent (Supports the Congress)
Sri Anwarul Hoque
Assam United Democratic Front
Hazi Salim Uddin Barbhuiya
Assam United Democratic Front
Gautam Roy
Indian National Congress
Rahul Roy
Indian National Congress
Bithika Dev
Indian National Congress
Kutub Ahmed Mazumdar
Indian National Congress
11-Dholai (SC)
Parimal Suklabaidya
Bharatiya Janata Party
Ajit Singh
Indian National Congress
Dinesh Prasad Goala
Indian National Congress
Rumi Nath
Bharatiya Janata Party (Has now joined the Congress)
Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya
Assam United Democratic Front

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