If Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is to be taken for his word, the prospects for Assam in the coming days are bleak indeed. The rendra Modi government at the Centre is no longer treating Assam as a special category State. The earlier 90:10 funding formula has been dropped by the Central government, raising serious question marks about the implementation of Central welfare schemes in Assam. The Fince Commission (FC) transfers as well as non-FC transfers to Assam are either curtailed or unsatisfactory this time, much to the State’s detriment. Chief Minister Gogoi’s frequent tirades against the Modi government have raised political temperatures, bringing back nightmarish memories to State government employees of salary-less days during the AGP regime. Overall, people in the State are bracing for lean times by watching their purses and tightening their belts, paying heed to the dire warnings by the Chief Minister. But in the midst of all this fear psychosis, comes a jarring note. The Tarun Gogoi government is pulling out all stops, sparing no expenses to celebrate its 14 years in power. The central two-day programme at Xoruxajai stadium in Guwahati from Saturday gives a lie to all the talk about government austerity. Watching this several crore rupees worth jamboree, people surely have a reason to wonder — why this razzmatazz, from where is the money coming, and who stands to benefit?
There cannot be a stronger sign of the disconnect of this government from the people. The Chief Minister and his ministerial colleagues, ruling party MLAs and leaders are ensconced comfortably in all their vainglory at the air-conditioned stage while people come gratefully to pay their obeisance. And how are the people flocking to the expensively decorated venue and exhibition showcasing the ‘achievements’ of Gogoi’s rule? How spontaneous this public response is can be gauged from the fact that the Higher Education Directorate recently issued a circular to all colleges in Guwahati, ordering all teachers to attend the government celebrations. Similar orders have been issued to Asha and Anganwadi workers by the Social Welfare department. In a statement listing the milestones in his 14 years rule, Tarun Gogoi claims to have built up infrastructure in the State to an impressive degree. Assam supposedly progressed much in Agriculture, Health, Commerce and many other sectors, while the government implemented a plethora of welfare schemes. If all these claims by the Gogoi government are true, why the panic and scurrying about in Dispur when the Central government tightens its purse-strings? Does it not signify that in all those 14 long years, the Tarun Gogoi government miserably failed to eble the State to achieve a reasoble degree of self-reliance, resilience and a clean system to encourage and tap the productive energies of its people? The Home department has been under Chief Minister Gogoi’s control throughout, but militants and crimils of all hues have free run in the State. The Gogoi government has even failed to safeguard the State’s borders, allowing disputes with galand, Meghalaya and Aruchal to fester endlessly. So however much the Tarun Gogoi government trumpets its rule, it is for the people to judge whether it is a justified celebration of good work done or all sound and fury signifying nothing. They will be able to deliver their verdict electorally within a year.