With the declaration of the dates for the Assam assembly elections in three phases, the people have once again started hearing the promises of different political parties. By now, the people are quite accustomed to hearing all those promises which include: serious efforts for solving flood problems, sincere efforts for distribution of land pattas, provision of financial relief to the economically weaker section in the society, efforts for increasing the rate of literacy in the society and creation of jobs for the unemployed youths etc. to mention a few only, before elections every time without fail.
Rather, except for fine-tuning of the languages used from the previous ones by all those political parties, there is no visible assurance for the fulfillment of their own commitments by the parties that come to power. So as usual, this time also there is a vast echo of all those commitments in the election manifestos of the political parties trying to lure the people for their votes from every nook and corner of the state. However, the hollowness of most of those promises has been invariably proved subsequently by any political party that comes to power. And, the common man is not left with any other option.
While burning problems like the problems of the flood, high rate of illiteracy which is on the rise very rapidly, a growing number of landless people, and price increase of essential items etc. are occupying the headlines regularly, in my different articles published in both print and electronic media, I have always been making it crystal clear for so many years that the northeastern states cannot enjoy the progress of economic development in the true sense if industrial development does not pick up.
I am very much pessimistic altogether because I cannot believe all those promises like revamping Jagiroad Paper Mill, Ashok Paper Mill, Pragbosimi Synthetic Ltd., APOL, giving elixir to Namrup Fertiliser, and creation of new vistas for encouraging foreign investments in the state etc. given as earlier election promises, if repeated this time also.
The end results of such assurances of giving a fillip to industrial progress in the other states of the northeastern region are also alike. Those business concerns have already created a number of jobless people, but those in power are mute spectators to the plight of those who consequentially lost their jobs from those business concerns not to speak of lack of government initiative for creating a conducive environment for the growth of new business concerns.
No meaningful economic development of Assam is possible without industrial progress. By industrial progress, I want to mean improvement of the overall performance of the existing ones and setting up new ventures having prospects of making rapid progress. Within improvement of the performance of the existing business concerns, I overwhelmingly emphasize the expansion of their areas of businesses. I am not against setting up new colleges, taking to free distribution of scooty to the meritorious students, policy to provide land for those displaced by illegal migrants, the establishment of public Wi-Fi hotspots in every GP and every urban ward and so forth.
I also welcome the promises of providing any amount to the students for covering their pocket expenses, an increase in any grants under any scheme, an increase in the payment of any existing amount and subsidy to certain sections of farmers, and an increase in accidental insurance cover for some sections of people. On the face of it, the decisions for welfare measure towards the people for the improvement of their health inclusive of the establishment of more and more health care centers and hospitals and for the progress of higher education, the establishment of new educational institutes more extensively, are undoubtedly very welcome. But what is a big question before me is has proper groundwork been done towards the viability of their entities?
Moreover, for required funds for the purpose, regular flow of money into the government exchequer through the generation of taxes without burdening the common people must be ensured and if the route is not through furtherance of industrial development both in the manufacturing and the service sectors mainly since that will surely ensure more taxes to the government, those projects may face problems in future.
It is in addition to their own generation of revenue. But, regarding industrialization, nothing much heartening is found in any of the election manifestos. As regards the prospect of industrial development, the experience that I am having has made me quite cynical. Utterances regarding revamping the Paper Mill at Jagiroad and some works at Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation at Namrup are also very vague without any timeline for completion of proposed actions.
If we look at the vistas of employment creation viz. development of tourism sector and the sectors dependent on that such as transport and hotel businesses etc., the impetus for increasing productions and productivities in the agriculture sector, development of fisheries, livestock and poultry farming etc. wherein convincingly meaningful employment opportunities ensuring wealth creation are there, almost all the political parties are maintaining silence. No foreign investor will show any business interest in Assam when they find that so many industrial units are following the path for extinction.
The NDA government in Assam came to power so that what people did not get from the previous governments could be available from this government. But, if one holds the scale even, I am too sure, he cannot show any remarkably positive change even though it is absolutely fresh in our memory how time and again the Industries, Transport minister has been reiterating about the intention of the government for revamping some of the sick industrial units during this current tenure of the government.
The suffering people are with aggravation of their suffering without finding any positive result of those intentions. Without the creation of wealth, the requirement of more and more money may compel an increase in taxes, printing more notes and compromise on government expenditures even in some key areas. But let us not forget that out of all such actions on the part of the government, only the common people will be suffering and the conditions of the people will not make any satisfactory move towards improvement.
Some realities are harsh. But long term economic goal of Assam is associated with the actions with policies of the government. A manifesto contains what that party will do if that is elected to power. To me, therefore, it is absolutely high time for the people to judge what all those promises of the political parties in their manifestos mean for them with long-term effect. It is time to make a thorough comparison of what the ruling political parties promised in their election manifestos in the earlier elections and what was done in actuality.
The reasons for failure to comply with the promises are not known to the people because there is no compulsion of accountability for such deviations. But the bitter truth is, the people are not with any other available option but to see any one of the political parties or alliance of parties in power with a mandate for a fresh term.
In reality, in our democratic system even though the political party/alliance of parties in power does not comply with its promises, the people are not having any remedy because the only option available is to elect another party or alliance in the next elections, but the end result is all known- problems of the common people will never be addressed.
Problems are always rising and unless the system is changed with proactively pragmatic policies and implementation of them with accountability for failure to fulfill the promises to the people, I am pessimistic about any meaningful positive change of the conditions of the common people.
Hence, to me, the elections in Assam in 2021 are also not at all an exception in this regard. With the most burning problem of growing unemployment, it is absolutely high time for the voters of Assam to analyze the details of the performances of the earlier promises and to come out for casting their votes taking appropriate voting decisions based on such analysis only.