Guwahati: Citizens’ Goodwill Goads Santanu Bharali to Offer his Candidature from Gauhati East for BJP
Is the prestigious Gauhati East constituency – the only fully urban constituency in Assam – likely to see a new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the fray for the assembly elections in 2021? If indications are to be believed, this seems a distinct possibility.
As reported by G Plus in its last edition (Vol 8, Issue 6 dated Nov 28 – Dec 4, 2020), there have been clear-cut reports that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is clearly backing incumbent chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, to continue as the chief minister should the BJP again be swept into power with a full majority.
Given this, G Plus asked a few prominent residents and long time voters of Gauhati East about their preference of a BJP candidate in the constituency. The name that emerged from a virtually unanimous opinion is Santanu Bharali, a resident of Silpukhuri who is currently holding the post of the Legal Adviser to the Chief Minister of Assam.
This is consequent to a fair bit of disappointment and vexation over the incumbent MLA, Siddhartha Bhattacharya, which most people expressed mainly regarding a certain extent of inaccessibility that he has maintained with the masses. This coupled with the work ethics exuded by Santanu Bharali, Gauhati East could well be desiring to send him to the assembly as their representative should Bharali be given the BJP ticket to contest.
G Plus spoke to Santanu Bharali at the newly opened public space at his residence in Silpukhuri, a commercial space right opposite the Silpukhuri pond, where the legal advisor to the CM catches up every evening with the locals and all others who desire a sympathetic ear to air their grievances.
“I have spent my entire life in this beautiful city. I have a large circle of friends and people who love me. Politics is a different issue but a public representative must be easily reachable and understand the root cause of the various issues. This has been greatly lacking. Work is definitely done, but without solving the core problem, no issue can be resolved completely,” said Bharali.
“Relationship is a personal issue. What people wish for is some support and guidance from their representative in their worrying and difficult times. I think people feel closer to me as a local and find it easier to communicate,” he added.
Notably, Santanu Bharali had been running a WhatsApp group called “BIG - Born in Guwahati” that had been applauded by Guwahatians for its “great work” towards addressing citizens’ grievances. Many civil issues had been successfully resolved through this WhatsApp group. Amongst them were the road development undertaken at the Ramkrishna Mission Road, fund clearance of the Chattrakar Devalaya at Uzan Bazaar, installation of streetlights at many places including the Uzan Bazar riverside, cleaning of roads, initiating police patrolling in many places and others.
The ‘Born In Guwahati’ WhatsApp group had prominent residents of Guwahati including the Commissioner of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (M), and other senior officials to look into the matters as required.
Bharali, who had recently recovered from Covid-19 informed about the discontinuation of his successful WhatsApp group. Regretting his inability to follow the concerns raised by the people during his recovery period, Bharali said, “I did come to realise that most people find it difficult to express their concern in writing. I could not follow the group for some time, but after a prolonged gap, I found that not many have raised their problems. I realised that people were more comfortable speaking directly. So nowadays I call the members individually to enquire about their problems.”
“I am born and brought up in Guwahati. It’s in my blood and I really want to do something for the city I love so much. I want to understand the issues faced by the citizens and try to help them as much as I can. I also have an official position in the government which I believe can be used for the benefit of my fellow Guwahatians. And I believe people are liking my approach,” Bharali proudly said.
Expressing his concern at the lackadaisical attitude of the present public representatives in dealing with matters he added, “I believe every problem is equally important if the city is to develop. Even a negligible issue for others might be a matter of great concern for a particular locality. I would really like to contest with high aspirations for solving all problems of my city.”
If he is given a chance to serve the citizens of Guwahati, Santanu Bharali wishes to eradicate the growing issue of rampant drug abuse in the city. “Smuggling and use of drugs in Guwahati is alarmingly high. If proper steps are not taken immediately, the city will soon be ruined soon,” he said.
Apart from that, he wishes to tackle other persistent issues like land encroachment and land ‘patta’ for people residing in the hills, artificial flood in RG Baruah Road and the nearby areas as also the ever-increasing problem of chain-snatching and robbery in Guwahati amongst others.
Santanu Bharali is contemplating the launch of a ‘pressure group’ of the same name very soon. “I wish to establish it as a strong unit so that the recommendations and concerns raised by this group can no longer be ignored by the authorities and the government.”
When G Plus mentioned his close relationship with the chief minister, Bharali was quick to say that he wishes to contest only if he is given a ticket based on his own capabilities and which can earn the people’s confidence.
As for his financial preparedness to run for the MLA’s post, Bharali said that as a completely urban constituency, citizens of Gauhati East are all learned and aware of their needs as well as rights. “There is no question of buying voters and no need for excessive campaigning. All one needs to do is put an effort into raising awareness amongst the lesser privileged sections of society. I don’t have much financial support but I don’t think it will be necessary also,” said Bharali.
“All those people want is to be safe and live a life of dignity. They wish for quick action towards addressing their grievances. Assuring them of the same and living up to that promise will be enough to gain their confidence,” Bharali said.
Digressing from the Gauhati East constituency, Santanu Bharali also pointed out the lack of development in the Gauhati West constituency. Expressing his keen desire to serve the people, he hinted at contesting for the neighbouring seat if not from his home constituency.
It needs to be mentioned that although the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has been holding the Gauhati West constituency over the last assembly term, their win is the result of their alliance with the ruling BJP, as majority votes have always been that of the allied party. G Plus enquired if BJP is contemplating to put their own candidate in this seat in the 2021 elections. To this, Santanu Bharali replied in the affirmative. Hinting at such a probability, he said, “I will be happy even to contest from Gauhati West. Citizens of that constituency have also been constantly seeking my intervention in various issues. I am even prepared for a friendly contest there.”
Lastly, expressing his never-ending love for Guwahati Bharali added, “I am following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan, ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas.’ People have lost faith in their representatives and the difficult task of regaining their faith in the system will be challenging. I wish to do my best in this regard.”
- Guwahati News
- Assam news
- Assam election 2021
- Gauhati East constituency
- Assam BJP
- Bharatiya Janata Party
- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
- RSS Assam
- Santanu Bharali