DATELINE Guwahati /Wasbir Hussain
I am sure nearly 70 years after Independence, the Assam Government would not like to showcase the Rajgarh Road in the heart of Guwahati as a sample of the State’s ‘development.’ This busy and key link road connecting major parts of Guwahati like Chandmari, Zoo Road, Lachitgar etc to the main GS Road is a driver’s nightmare and is extremely risky for pedestrians as well as those who travel by rickshaws. That’s because the road is dotted with large potholes, has not seen a coat of tar for more than two years, and is just left to the mercy of the elements. If the authorities decided to do a patch-up job, it began on a rainy day, of course, in broad day-light, to the constertion of Monday office-goers. Who cares because the State’s only VVIP, a keen golfer who likes his routine jigs, never need to take this road!
Yes, the horror that is the Rajgarh Road today is a reflection of poor development and lack of basic infrastructure in rural Assam. Villages or clusters of villages are still connected by age-old wooden bridges, most of whom have become so dilapidated that they could cave in anytime, taking with them precious lives. Visuals on local television from across rural Assam present a pathetic sight of what passes off as ‘bridges’. It gives an impression the Government does not care. It is not a question of whether the Congress, the AGP or the BJP is or was in power. It is a question of gross negligence, an apathetic attitude of the people in power, the elected representatives as well as the otherwise noisy and ‘influential’ student groups found in plenty in Assam.
The Congress has been in power in Assam for 14 years at a stretch and is getting ready to fight for power yet again next year. I wonder whether or not the Government of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has something called professiol pride. A housewife takes pride in good housekeeping, among other things, a jourlist takes pride in good and accurate reportage, a filmmaker takes pride in making a good film and so on. Does the ruling party politicians, as also those belonging to the opposition, take pride in good governce? If a minister, MLA or an MP belonging to the ruling party is expected to provide good governce, an opposition politician is expected to passiotely raise issues of public interest till the time the authorities corrects the matter. Sadly, that is missing in Assam. The civil society, too, pursues matters to a point and then gives up. This approach gives the Government a lot of leeway to do things as they like or not do anything at all!
I often wonder why the 78 Congress MLAs is Assam are a detached lot, not bothered with the poor infrastructure in the rural areas. Don’t they want to win the coming elections or have they realized they are going to be routed this time, and, have, therefore, given up? Tarun Gogoi is otherwise an astute politician and one is surprised, therefore, as to how he can allow things to drift to a point of no return. The power situation has not improved in the past decade, roads have deteriorated, the APSC functioning has not been streamlined or made totally transparent, State Government employees, whose salaries have been hiked, still do not come to office on time, and stories of corruption abound. Generally speaking, the feel-good factor is just not there.
At the end, it is a case of a good opportunity lost to take Assam on the road to real progress. Yes, the ruling Congress had also devised a good slogan—Raijor Podulit, Raijor Sorkar (A People’s Government, at the People’s doorstep). What was needed was execution of slogans or promises such as these. As far as the Rajgarh Road is concerned, a solitary road repairing/building machine is on the job, and has succeeded in levelling a stretch of the road. Whether it makes the I-Day deadline (if there is any deadline at all) is left to be seen!