On the campaign trail with Congress candidate Bobbeeta Sarma
Editor of G Plus, Swapnil Bharali, caught up with Indian National Congress candidate for Gauhati Lok Sabha seat, Bobbeeta Sarma.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Why should people vote for you over the other candidates?
I mean, why not? I feel that I can work for the people of my state and represent my state. I have good intensions in my heart to serve the people of Assam. I have some well thought out plans for the development of my constituency. We have ten constituencies and each of these constituencies has its own unique scope for development.
Can you give me an example for your development plans for the constituencies, for example Boko? What will be your development plans for Boko in the next five years?
I have not yet been to Boko; my Boko campaign will start in the next few days. Apart from that, I have visited Hajo, which has scope for tourism as it is the religious seed of communal harmony. It has Pua Mecca DargaSarif, Hayagriv Madhav Mandir and many other such places of worship. Because of this, it can be a very good tourism circuit.
So, essentially you’re saying tourism development would mean Hajo development?
Not only Hajo development, also the areas around Hajo which are all are interlinked. Such as Hajo, Chayygaon and even Boko. They are all interlinked; it can have a nice tourism route. Apart from that, I have seen in my campaign trail in Hajo that there is a scope for cotton cultivation. Hajo has the bio- diversity and also the climate for the cultivation of Himolu Fula (cotton) cultivation. You have to think out of the box, you have to think what is the specific uniqueness of each constituency and find out how you can generate economic activity in that area.
What about Palashbari constituency?
I haven’t visited Palashbari either. Other than that, I have visited Dudhnoi. Dudhnoi has lots of local issues such as bad communication. There are many far-flung tribal areas. I have only been to one part of the constituency and I would like to visit the other one. Most of the constituencies like Palashbari, Chhaygaon and even Hajo have basic problems like flood and erosion. These problems not only affect these constituencies but most of Assam. We had already given a lot of memorandum to the government of India to declare floods as a national problem but the government hasn’t taken any steps. So I would like to take this issue up and it will also be one of my agenda.
How about the city constituencies like Jalukbari, Gauhati East, Gauhati West, Dispur?
I have started with Gauhati East. The main problem in Gauhati West and East is water supply. Drinking water problem is basically a state problem. The state government has to look into it but we can definitely put pressure on the state government to implement the projects as quickly as possible. You know that when the Congress government was in power, we had come up with the JICA project. The project was supposed to have been completed by 2017 but we have seen that the project has not been completed by the present government even by 2019. This has created a lot of problems. Wherever I go, the main complaint of people is the water problem and I feel that the government is not doing enough in this regard. The government should have a time bound implementation programme to speed this project up. Something is wrong with the governance here because I feel that maybe there is a water mafia going on, because people are buying water now even though the Brahmaputra is flowing right next door. I think this might be one of the reasons that the implementation of the process has not been completed.
How did Bijoya Chakravarty fare as an MP of the constituency for the last 10 years?
From what I have gathered by interacting with people, she has been there for the last 10 years but I don't see any effective changes that she has brought in through her MPLAD funds. I don't think any strong attempt has been made from her side for all-round development of the constituencies under her.
This is your first contest as an MP, you lost out last time for the MLA Gauhati East seat. What have you learnt from the losses?
I got some experiences on how to fight an election. We had fifteen years of Congress government and I feel that the people wanted a change. This time I feel that the response of the people has been very positive; wherever I went, I was welcomed whole-heartedly. I got better response. I interacted with people and appealed for a chance to show them that I have some definite plans for the constituency. If they can give a BJP MP a chance for ten years, I just want them to give me a chance for five years to try and perform before they judge me.
Rapid fire round. I'll give you the names of a few politicians and I want an instant one phrase or one word response to those names:
Himanta Biswa Sarma: He needs to channelize his intelligence in a positive way.
Sarbananda Sonowal: He has not been able to live up to the expectations of the people.
Rahul Gandhi: He is an honest person with good intensions and means what he says.
Narendra Modi: Full of drama and false promises.
Amit Shah: He is an intelligent person but has a lot of negativity in him.
TarunGogoi: Lot of stamina, he is still going strong.
Queen Ojha: An elderly person whom I respect a lot but...
Bobbeeta Sharma: Good at heart, good intentions. I have a lot of will to work.
Has there been any discontent within the Congress party with regard to your candidature because there were several other applicants?
Well, obviously only one person can be nominated and there will be people who will be disappointed. I have met Bolin Bordoloi, Ramen Borthakur and I have sought their blessings. I think in a family such things happen and they will come around.
What do you have to say about the Queen Ojha false documents controversy?
Well, it's very unfortunate that a person who is a candidate for Lok Sabha has given false documents regarding her higher secondary qualifications. People expect better responsibility from such a candidate.