GUWAHATI, April 21 – With Guwahati set to go to the polls on April 24 with 18 candidates in the fray, the big question is whether the genuine issues of public interest have got sidelined in the midst of the personal attack-oriented campaign indulged in by the candidates.
Though local in nature, the issues of Guwahati, be it the land settlement issues or the law and order problems, have always had wider repercussions both for the government and the people. After publishing the feedbacks received from people of different areas in Guwahati, The Assam Tribune sought to know from some of the candidates whether or not the local issues of Guwahati have got adequate attention in the election campaigns this time.
The BJP candidate from Guwahati, Bijoya Chakravarty, while acknowledging traffic congestion and law and order as the main issues of Guwahati, said these issues need adequate attention. Chakravarty, who represented Guwahati in the 13th and 15th Lok Sabha, said that there is not much an MP can do for solving the civic issues of Guwahati, unless the State authorities extend sincere support.
“As an Opposition MP, my main job was to highlight the issues of my constituency at the Centre and I did that whenever I got an opportunity. I took up the matter of planned development of the city even with the Prime Minister. I also utilised the MP fund for development in different areas of the city. A major drain in Sunsali was constructed through my MP fund but the State authorities could not utilise the fund brought by me for drain construction in some other areas,” she alleged.
“Traffic jam and water-logging are other major problems, along with the deteriorating law-and-order situation,” she added.
While talking to the citizens of different areas of the city, it was found that inadequate drainage is a common problem in many parts of Guwahati, especially in the old localities where the existing drainage system fails to cater to the needs of a growing population.
Birendra Prasad Baishya, the AGP candidate, said that if voted to power, his main thrust would be on the land settlement issue and making the city hygienic.
“Civic problems are not just election issues; they are genuine problems of Guwahati being faced by every citizen. Though the problems of urban planning and land settlement are discussed threadbare, proper planning to solve the problems is missing. Cleaning and restoring the Bharalu and Bahini rivulets would solve the water-logging problem to a great extent, which is not being done. Adequate power supply and potable water is a distant dream for the citizens. Rather than crowding the city further, planned satellite townships should be developed around Guwahati,” he said.
“Maintaining hygiene is a must for public health as well as for improving the image of this gateway to the Northeast. We must learn lessons from the recent dengue and jaundice outbreaks,” he added.
Despite repeated attempts by The Assam Tribune, the Congress MP candidate, Manas Bora, could not be contacted.
In its maiden political battle, the State unit of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) has published constituency-based manifestoes. The Guwahati manifesto of the party has mentioned a number of local issues, including clean drinking water supply, slums of Guwahati, expanding Guwahati’s municipal limit and promoting self-employment.
Pranjal Bordoloi, the AAP candidate from Guwahati, said that if chosen, he would devote the MP fund for employment generation with focus on self-employment.
“The local problems concerning the common people must get priority in a public representative’s agenda. It is not that an MP cannot have much say in solving problems of local nature. No MP of Guwahati, including the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, can shirk the responsibility of addressing the developmental concerns of the entire Lok Sabha constituency. The unorganized sector labourers and vendors here suffer from gross insecurity, as there is no proper planning for their rehabilitation. The outskirts of Guwahati have immense scope of home-stay tourism. An MP can definitely influence the system if he or she wishes so. Elected or not, I would do my bit to promote self-employment in and around Guwahati,” said Bordoloi.