Void of any criteria, the ministry reshuffle by Gogoi is seen as a continuance of an ethnic appeasement policy
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, January 20: The criteria adopted by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi while reshuffling his council of ministers continues to be an enigma of sorts, notwithstanding that the exercise is understood to have got the approval from the party high command.
Some Congress insiders say that Gogoi wanted to spruce up government functioning by removing “inefficient” ministers. But if that was the criteria, the likely presence of three incumbent ministers in the next cabinet is bound to raise eyebrows.
If reports are to be believed, Khorsing Engti (minister for Hill Area Development, Veteriry and Animal Husbandry), zrul Islam (minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Health) and Rakibul Hussain (minister for Forest and Environment, Panchayat and Rural Development) will find berths in the next council of ministers as well.
Engti’s departments have been lackluster. Despite availability of funds from the Centre, the departments have failed to show any result notwithstanding the immense potential of the sectors in the State. The only thing the departments have done seems to be construction of several office buildings, which too have become white elephants as they continue to lie unoccupied. Worse, there are allegations of the MLA being linked to a suspected witch–hunting case at Howraghat which is being investigated by the CBI.
The performance of zrul Islam’s food and civil supplies department is for all to see. Lack of regulators and monitoring system had led to steep price rise of essential commodities during his tenure. Ever since Islam took charge of the health department, there were reports of severe shortage of medicines and vaccines in the State.
The ubated rhino poaching and depredation of the State forest cover in the State over the years speak of Rakibul Hussain’s performance.
It is said that these three will be retained in the ministry as the party had fared well in their constituencies in the last Lok Sabha elections.
However, if the results in the Lok Sabha elections are a criteria, then inclusion of Sarat Barkataky, Chandan Sarkar, Bismita Gogoi, Sumitra Patir and Etuwa Munda would be another riddle. The Congress had cut a sorry figure in their constituencies in the general elections.
The others who might make it to the new ministry are Dr Bhumidar Barman, Sukur Ali and Girindra Mallick. Except for Dr Barman, the others were never in public eye and have been unimpressive elected representatives. There are doubts over their ability to perform as ministers.
Theories are doing the rounds that Gogoi basically tried to do a balancing act in the “image make–over exercise”.
“It seems that caste, religion and area were yardsticks in the removal and induction of the ministers. It was an ethnic appeasement – there is nothing more to it. For example, Gautam Roy will be replaced by another politician from the linguistic minority of Barak Valley. Rajiv Lochan Pegu will be replaced by Sumitra Patir and Etuwa Munda will replace Prithivi Majhi,” said a political observer.