Dayananda Pathak

The Prime Minister’s visit to a State, immediately before the Assembly election, carries great political significance. Such visits also have many implications – economic, social, developmental and otherwise. The Prime Minister, belonging to a political party, will quite naturally speak about his party’s performances through the State Government’s performances. The visit of the PM Narendra Modi this time was also criticized by the disgruntled sections of the society speaking about the Government’s lackadaisical attitude to many burning issues of the State. The people, by and large, had the expectations that the PM would speak on those unresolved issues. But Modi did not touch those issues that the people of the State are concerned with.

Jerenga Pathar, where Sati Joymati was tortured to cruel death by the then Ahom king Lora Roja and his sycophants, changed the history of the Ahom monarchy. Gadadhar Singha became the king of Assam, followed by Rudra Singha who brought glory to Assam history. With that historic background in mind, people expected some palliative words from Modi. But he was disturbed by a faulty address system, and he had to tell the organizers to take care of the same.

The meeting, well-organized by the State Government and the party in power, was meant for the distribution of land pattas to some indigenous people having no official land documents worth the name. This matter is quite important, but for that matter the Deputy Commissioners of the districts could have been entrusted to do the needful. This by itself means that the PM’s visit was primarily for electioneering, and secondarily for patta distribution. But our expectations were different. The people of the State expected some words from the Prime Minister about the burning issues that the State is beset with.

Assam is reeling under many unpalatable situations. A peaceful and peace-loving State is moving towards diverse explosive situations, and the forthcoming Assembly election will prove to be a watershed not only for the party in power, but also for the people at large. The State of Assam is demographically different from the other States of India. Besides, its geographical location is also quite mind-boggling. This region is surrounded by foreign countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and China. Assam is attached to India very feebly, only through a ‘chicken neck’. Under the situation, Assam demands special attention from the Government. The visit of a Prime Minister, despite being underplayed by some of the dissatisfied political interest groups, was expected to bring in some strategic changes in the government’s work agenda for the overall and inclusive development of the state, covering all the racial sections of the society.

The burning issues of the State are getting thicker and unwieldy with every passing day. Besides, the Covid-19 has affected the social, educational and economic life of the people quite visibly. The National Register of Citizens is still unresolved. The State has spent a stupendous amount, all for an unresolved NRC. The names of many indigenous people of the State are yet to be included in the NRC. Besides, the names of many doubtful people are also reported to be in the register. The arrangement for review of the grievances of the NRC-related objections are yet to be resolved by competent authorities. Procrastination will fatten the problem, and that is the reality about the situation. The implementation of the Assam Accord has been taken up by the Government by constituting a high-level committee that submitted its report consensually, headed by a retired High Court judge. The report is still in the coffers of the State Government, and the same has not reached the Central Home Ministry even after more than one year.

The Prime Minister in his speeches in 2016 assured the people of the State to open the closed industries. The Nagaon and Cachar paper mills are lying dead. This has resulted in unemployment amongst the employed people, creating survival issues for those people. Other closed industries are also having the same fate. Not a single industry is seen to have been revived or newly established. Unemployment has become a threatening demon. Add to that the unbearable rising prices of commodities of daily use.

The State is perennially affected by flood, leading to all sorts of deprivations to the people. Our peasants are losing their lands every year. The result is known to all – we are having shortage of arable lands. Add to that the devastations of our homesteads destroyed by the flood and land erosion. Have we ever been able to work out some permanent solution to these issues?

The international border with Bangladesh is still not sealed. Animal resources are being racketed to Bangladesh through unsealed borders by some unscrupulous people before the very eyes of the police. No strict action is seen to have been taken by the police for mysterious reasons.

Assam is now under a process of deforestation, actuated by the land-grabbers and the money-makers at the cost of the State’s overall interests. Our forest resources are also exposed to land-grabbers and animal killers. Because of deforestation and illegal land-grabbing, the survival of the animal resources of the State is also in a state of decay and degeneration. The elephants and tigers are losing their livable space, and they are seen moving to the agricultural fields and villages in search of food. The CAA is opposed by the people, except by the ruling party members.

Take the example of Guwahati. This is a smart city without water, water for daily use by the taxpayers. The water-centric projects for the city are lying paralysed for decades. We are forced to survive by spending huge money for purchasing water from private water traders.

All these problems have proved to be painful for the people of the State. People expected some palliative words from the Prime Minister this time on those burning issues. But Modi had not spoken a single word on those issues. He simply presented some statistical data, officially prepared by the State Government. This time the Prime Minister has chosen not to present any new package, perhaps having realized the fate of his earlier packages. He must have made us understand that his visit was an official one, and not a political one.