Gogoi's dole politics in trouble

Bid to create 15-20 thousand beneficiaries in each constituency stymied

Uphill task to coax Rs 862 crore from the Centre for populist schemes

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, August 3: It is said: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’. But such empowerment is athema for the Tarun Gogoi government in Assam. Having institutiolized the politics of patroge in the State in the last 14 years, the ruling Congress is gearing up to distribute various doles with the 2016 assembly elections barely nine months away.

In a desperate bid to retain power for the fourth time, the Gogoi government is pulling out all stops to create at least 15-20 thousand core beneficiaries in each of the 126 legislative assembly constituencies (LAC) in the State. There is a catch however — the rendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre must play ball by loosening its purse-strings.

On January 1 this year, Chief Minister Gogoi announced several schemes, for which funds to the tune of around Rs 862 crores were duly allocated under plan head in the State budget. A range of beneficiaries were targeted — homeless people, elderly people seeking pensions, students in general and girl students in particular, widows, unmarried women and the like — who would be paid in cash or kind under Gogoi’s schemes.

A look at some of these schemes will give an idea how the Tarun Gogoi government continues to play the politics of poverty by handing out doles to the poor. Rs 252 crore has been allocated as fincial assistance for construction of 1,00,800 dwelling houses for homeless people (800 per constituency), Rs 63 crore for construction of dwelling houses for homeless minority people (200 per constituency), Rs 100 crore for providing 10,000 bundles of yarn and 10,000 blankets per constituency for total 126 constituencies, and Rs 63 crore for providing assistance to 1,000 women self-help groups in each constituency (Rs 5,000 for each SHG) for a total of 126 constituencies.

There is more to come — Rs 45 crore to provide old age pension to 1 lakh persons, Rs 25.2 crore to provide fincial assistance to 200 poor widows (Rs 10,000 each) per constituency for 126 constituencies, Rs 63 crore to provide fincial assistance to 1,000 artisans and petty traders (Rs 5,000 each) per constituency for 126 constituencies, Rs 63 crore to provide fincial assistance to 250 unmarried women of age 40-60 years (Rs 10,000 each) per constituency for 126 constituencies, Rs 7 crore to provide fincial assistance for marriage of unmarried girls of BPL families, Rs 20 crore for distributing solar lamps among 2 lakh students, and Rs 10 crore for distributing low-cost sanitary pkins among schoolgirls.   

In total, Chief Minister Gogoi announced 25 such schemes with a total allocation of Rs 862.3 crore on New Year day this year. But given the acute fund crunch the State government is faced with, the CM will have a hard time fulfilling his promises.

With the rendra Modi government adopting a different funding paradigm through the NITI-Aayog, seeking utilization certificates for funds released under Central schemes and demanding proper planning and accountability from State governments, Dispur will have a hard time in getting funds released by the Centre. Having neglected to build up adequate infrastructure in the State and empower its people, while squandering public money right and left — the Tarun  Gogoi government now has the unenviable task to coax funds from the Central government to play its politics of patroge for votes.

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