GUWAHATI, Nov 28 - In what has been described as a move aimed to woo the electorate during next year’s polls to the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has started an exercise to survey all the vendors in the city to streamline the system and make footpaths and markets people-friendly.
Leaders of the saffron party told The Assam Tribune that the exercise started on Monday and is expected to be finished within a fortnight and all the major roads, arteries and markets of the city will be covered.
“The existing system lacks discipline and is full of hazards, which causes inconvenience to the general public as well as the vendors themselves. Footpaths and sidewalks are getting encroached. This has resulted in a number of accidents and also made the city unhygienic. Our survey is intended as a first step towards helping in bringing about some semblance of discipline to the entire system and also boost the effort to make roads and markets people-friendly as well as free from encroachment and pollution,” Bichitra Narayan Kalita, president of BJP’s Guwahati Metropolitan District Committee, told this newspaper. Party cadres and also members of six affiliated organisations are being engaged in the exercise.
“Civic rules are at times openly flouted. At many markets, some anti-social elements are reportedly running ‘syndicates’ and fleecing the vendors, which also affects the consumers because the vendors pass on the burden to the end users. Through the survey, which we intend to share with the local administration, we are looking to make the entire system of roadside vendors and other small businesses systematic while also eliminating presence of syndicates,” said Kalita.
Party sources said that the survey, in which names, addresses, locations of businesses, civic and municipal permits and other details of vendors are being collected, is also intended to encourage the indigenous and local small businessmen while trying to identify suspected illegal immigrants.
“We want genuine Indian citizens to get priority in running such establishments,” said a BJP leader.
Asked if the party is hoping to use the exercise as a poll plank for the next GMC elections, he said, “Why not? All political parties want to win polls. If our effort to bring about civic discipline among vendors is appreciated by the common people and if that brings us some electoral dividends, then it is all the better for us.” The last GMC polls were held in 2013 and the current term of the Corporation is scheduled to get over in July next year.
Meanwhile, the district unit of BJP has also started preparations for the forthcoming civic polls. “There are 45 panchayats in Kamrup (Metro) district and we have started gearing up for the polls and workers have been mobilised for house-to-house canvassing. The process for selection of candidates will be taken up shortly,” said a BJP leader.