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food for thought

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  20 Feb 2016 12:00 AM GMT

With assembly elections knocking at the door, a shameful trend is coming to light in constituency after constituency in the State. Huge quantities of yarn, blanket, mosquito nets and other welfare materials ostensibly meant for the poor are being distributed among those identified as reliable voters for the ruling party. Students and youth organizations have recently exposed such hush-hush consignments in Margherita, Tingkhong, Majuli, Kamalpur and many other places. The materials should have been stored properly in government offices and distributed among genuine beneficiaries through public notices. Instead, there is a lot of secret activity to distribute such materials among ruling party supporters to keep them happy before the polls. Trucks laden with these materials set out under the cover of darkness, clandestine meetings of so-called beneficiaries are held, and the materials are handed out by political leaders and ticket seekers. Large sections of government machinery are being openly used for this purpose. This is in blatant violation of the spirit, if not letter, of court directives. The Supreme Court and Gauhati High Court have taken serious issue with welfare schemes being used by the Congress government in Assam to build up a beneficiary base. The courts have questioned the lack of publicity for various welfare schemes in the form of public notices and advertisements, as well as the absence of any guidelines to identify the genuinely poor and needy who should be receiving such materials. But some ministers and MLAs are brazenly defying court directives while mouthing glib excuses. Such malpractices spoil the atmosphere before elections, institutiolizing the use of money power to buy votes. It is part of a sordid system of patroge that political parties set up to remain in power. This will be followed by more malpractices like distributing cash and liquor in the hours before the polls. Social organizations and the media must make the common people aware about the perils of such a system which shuts the door on new political parties with clean agendas.

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