Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi during the function at his residence in Guwahati on Tuesday. (PTI)
Guwahati, Jan. 1: A reflective Assam chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, today said his government could not control the BTAD unrest the way it would have liked to and that it would take some time for rehabilitation of the remaining camp inmates.
A candid Gogoi spoke on the sensitive issue at the customary New Year interaction at his Koinadhara residence here this afternoon when asked about setbacks and failures in the year gone by.
“The BTAD riots were one. We could not control the unrest as we would have liked even though things are okay now,” Gogoi said.
The Kokrajhar riots that broke out in July left nearly five lakh displaced and over 100 killed, drawing the nation’s attention to the unrest, which was described as unprecedented given the scale of the displacement and the impact it had outside the state.
Gogoi himself had come under intense pressure to check the unrest.
He also admitted that though most of the affected have returned home, it will take some time for the rehabilitation of the other inmates as they were living on forestland. It is not easy to allot forestland officially, sources said.
At present, 42,425 affected people are still living in relief camps.
The other failure, according to him, was corruption.
“We could not check it to the extent we wanted. But I appeal to the people to co-operate with us to check corruption,” he said.
Corruption is one issue that the Opposition will flag in the run-up to the panchayat polls.
There was also a lot of hue and cry after the suicide of an irrigation department accountant who wrote in his suicide note that he was forced to take the extreme step as he was unable to return the money taken from contractors allegedly to fund the election of a sitting MLA (Anamul Haque), said to be close to Gogoi, in lieu of departmental contracts.
Gogoi also admitted to obstacles in running the government when asked whether there were problems from within the government. “There were obstacles but I prefer challenges. These only make me stronger and younger. I am not bothered about obstacles,” the septuagenarian said in an oblique reference to the move by a section within the party and CLP to get him replaced.
There was no announcement of schemes like in previous years owing to the mode code of conduct for the three-phase panchayat poll starting January 30 coming into force but Gogoi subtly conveyed what his government had been doing and will be doing for the benefit of the rural populace.
Stressing the need to concentrate more on job-oriented education and health, Gogoi said he has managed to impress upon the Centre to recognise the problem of erosion — a bigger threat than flood.
The state has lost over four lakh hectares to erosion.
Gogoi also compared himself to his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi, saying he was for the poor, unlike Modi who was backing capitalists.
As part of his plans for the year, Gogoi said he would push for increasing the state’s income through resource mobilisation. “I will ask all departments to cut excess expenditure by 20 per cent and increase revenue by five per cent,” he said.