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food for thought

It is said a politician is known by the promises he keeps. By this yardstick, Tarun Gogoi has much food for thought, if not self–alysis. For possibly no other Chief Minister in the country can match Tarun Gogoi in making promises and breaking them. From 2001 to 2014, the number of promises that the Chief Minister of Assam has made is not only beyond the capacity of its people to remember, but he himself may struggle to keep count. Was it not Nietzsche who had said that one must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises that one makes? Almost every other day the Chief Minister makes a promise or announces some grandiose scheme. Aideo, Baideo, Majoni… more than half a hundred schemes announced in the last thirteen years, but it is a moot question how many of them are now alive and kicking, how many are benefiting the common people. The sad truth is that many such schemes have either been stillborn or met a quiet death. If promises are only as strong as the person who makes them, then it is applicable to governments as well. A responsible and capable government will do well to remember Mahatma Gandhi’s exhortation: “Breach of promise is a base surrender of truth”. Again by this yardstick, the Tarun Gogoi government has fallen short repeatedly. On January 1 this year, the Chief Minister announced around 30 schemes during his interaction with jourlists. This long list has duly been carried by the press. Since 2002, Tarun Gogoi has been interacting with jourlists on New Year’s day, making sundry promises or announcing this or that scheme. It is not possible for us to recollect all of them, but may we ask the Chief Minister what became of his much hyped metro rail project for Guwahati? How is the construction of the proposed Madhabdev Kalakshetra proceeding? Will his promised Cooperatives University, Petroleum University, Sanskrit University and other universities ever see the light of day? What is the current status of recruitment processes promised in various government departments? Has the minimum support price for paddy been fixed? Did the homes of tea garden labourers get the electricity connections promised? There are many such questions that can be addressed to the Chief Minister. We now feel that before the Chief Minister makes another promise on the first day of a new year, he should bring out a checklist of what happened to his promises in earlier years. Of course, he has shown no such inclition till date! Among the thirty promises that Tarun Gogoi has made on New Year’s day of 2015, there is one about updating the NRC from February next. But did he not make this promise way back in 2001 during the run up to the state Assembly elections? Why is he restating the same promise after a hiatus of 14 years? The state government now says it wants to increase the number of self–help groups in the state from 1 lakh to 7 lakhs. But does the Chief Minister know how many of these 1 lakh self–help groups are surviving as of now? Tarun Gogoi would therefore do well to remember Abraham Lincoln’s wise words: “We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot”.

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Ankur Kalita

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