GUWAHATI, Jan 1 - “Don’t underestimate the power of the common man. He is more intelligent and discerning than politicians think,” Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi sounded this note of caution to all political parties, including the Congress, ahead of the forthcoming Assembly elections.
Gogoi, who was interacting with media persons, said that while the Congress was confident of putting up a good show in the polls, it would be foolhardy to take the people for granted.
“The masses are more pragmatic than we think. It is difficult to influence voters as they are clear about what the Government is doing and what not,” he said.
Acknowledging that election-time pressure was on the State Government, the Chief Minister said that anti-incumbency, too, was another factor against the Congress.
“But we are approaching the people with a positive report card. Assam has witnessed development and peace in the past 15 years. We still have a lot to achieve, but definite progress has been made in diverse spheres such as infrastructure development, agriculture, rural development, health, education, GDP growth, etc.,” he said.
Gogoi was of the view that the BJP’s popularity following its overwhelming victory in the 2014 general elections was on the wane, as testified by the saffron brigade’s poor show in the subsequent Assembly elections as also panchayat and civic body polls in different States.
Among other New Year announcements of the Chief Minister included the extension of old age pension to include all BPL citizens above 60 years of age; uniform to school-going BPL students up to Class XI; coverage of all colleges by Wi-Fi Internet connectivity; reorganisation of development blocks with a criterion to have at least two blocks per Legislative Assembly Constituency; development councils for persons with disabilities, Kalita and Brahmin communities of Assam, and for Jolha; setting up of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev Sahitya-Sanskriti Unnayan Parishad; setting up of a Bodo-Kachari Autonomous Council for the Bodo-Kachari people living outside the BTC area; development council for the Karbi people living outside Karbi Anglong; new civil subdivisions in Bihpuriya-Narayanpur, Naharkatiya, Ramkrishna Nagar, Howraghat, Diyungbra, Dakhin Kamrup, Mukalmua, Kalgachia, Moran, Patharkandi, Katigorah, Merapani, Tihu, Sarukhetri and Sorbhog; upgrade of five revenue circles of Sonapur, Dispur, Guwahati, Azara and Chandrapur in Kamrup (Metro) district into civil subdivisions, among others.