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Two Years of BJP in Assam – Hits & Misses
For the first time in its history, Assam, influenced by the phenomenal saffron surge that swept the country, elected a BJP government in 2016 pinning hopes of setting many things right that had gone awry during the previous regimes.
As the BJP completes two years of governance, let's take a look at the areas where they did really well and a few grey areas where they failed or could've done better.
The BJP wrested power from the Congress on the promise of protecting jaati (indigenous people), maati (land), bheti (home) and from day one, its actions somewhat denoted that it meant business.
• The various eviction drives on forest lands and hills carried out in many parts of the state, especially the Kaziranga National Park, resulted in thousands of bighas of land being cleared of encroachment - mostly by illegal migrants.
• The government has also delivered on its promise of zero-tolerance on corruption. Examples are removal of illegal check gates on national highways, the arrest of APSC Chairman and related officers, arrests of corrupt officials from departments like agriculture and excise etc.
• The Madrassa Board was scrapped and merged with the state education board to promote modern learning.
• The CM's "Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana" was launched with a whopping outlay of Rs. 30,000 crores envisaging all-round development of all villages.
• The “Assam Ease of Doing Business Bill 2016" was passed in the very first session of Assembly demonstrating the government’s commitment towards creating a business-friendly atmosphere.
• The proposed investment of Rs. 1,000 crores each by Patanjali Foods and Hindustan Unilever Limited to expand and establish manufacturing units in the state is a major boost to the state's industrial sector.
• The Global Investors’ Summit in Feb 2018 was highly successful; it will boost trade and other relations with Southeast Asia.
• The valiant sacrifices of the martyrs of the Assam Agitation were honoured under the "Shraddanjali" program where Rs 5 lakhs each was paid to the kin of the 860 martyrs' families.
• The expeditious manner in which the Herculean task of NRC updating is being carried out with assistance from the Union government deserves applause.
• The increment in monthly pension of artists and sports persons of the state from Rs. 4,000/- to Rs. 8,000/-.
• In line with the government's promise to make higher education accessible to the poorest students of the state, more than a lakh were admitted free of cost in more than 300 colleges across the state - a laudable step indeed.
• Extricating the oil royalty for the period 2008-14 from the Centre, tea workers benefitting with more than 7 lakh bank accounts being opened: a major step towards their financial stability.
However, notwithstanding the decent work done by the BJP government in many spheres, there are certain areas they have failed thus far or could've done better.
• Little improvement/action has been seen with regard to the perennial problems of flood and erosion that have plagued the state for long. The magnitude of the problems is such that they cannot be resolved in a short span of time. But any concrete step towards a resolution is missing.
• The one-horned rhino is facing a survival challenge like never before. Although instances of poaching have come down in the last 2 years with induction of special protection forces with modern weapons, more is expected from the government to save this pride of Assam from extinction.
• Prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed despite illegal check gates being closed down and a massive clampdown on corruption.
• In its vision document released prior to the 2016 polls, the BJP had said that the Assam Accord would be implemented in letter and spirit. On the contrary, the party is now supporting the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 which has caused widespread resentment amongst the indigenous populace of Assam.
• The slow pace of the sealing of Indo-Bangladesh border is another area where the party seems to have deviated from its promise.
• Another pre-poll promise was to enact a law to sternly deal with industries, business houses and other agencies that employ foreigners. Nothing has been done in this regard so far.
• In one of the rallies prior to the 2014 Parliament elections, Narendra Modi, driven by his immaculate rhetoric, had declared that illegal foreigners residing in India would have to pack their bags if the party is voted to power. No noticeable action has been seen. More disappointing than this has been Assam government’s ineffectiveness in taking things forward with the Centre in the right direction.
Also, the entire region is still looking forward to see what the Centre’s much-hyped “Act East Policy” – the erstwhile “Look East Policy” – actually has for its people, and when. People are sanguine that this government won't let them down and keep up with most of its promises if not all ticking the maximum boxes before it reaches out seeking another mandate.
Well, two years is long enough for people to form an opinion but short enough too to be judgmental and overcritical on any government's performance.
Most influx took place during the Congress terms from 2001-2016 and earlier, when BJP had little role to play in state politics. Currently 9 of the 33 districts have a predominantly Muslim population and it’s anybody’s guess whether these are foreigners/locals. Thanks to some insensitive and greedy political parties whose only objective was to establish a trusted vote bank and nothing else."