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State event turns poll rally

- Cong presents united face at students’ award function

Jorhat, Dec. 12: A state government function in Jorhat to reward meritorious students was virtually turned into a rally for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Assam chief minister used the 9th Anunda Ram Borooah award ceremony to convey not only what the Congress-led government has done for the common man but also to send across the message that the state party unit was a united house.

The presence of Mariani MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi, who never let go of an opportunity to criticise Gogoi, sharing the dais with the latter; the praise showered by Jorhat MLA Rana Goswami on education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in the same breath as the chief minister suggested that the intense infighting which had gripped the Congress Legislature Party was a thing of the past, at least in public.

The CLP meeting convened in October saw both the pro and anti-Gogoi camps, under instruction from the high command, declare a ceasefire till 2014. The speeches of the MLAs left none in doubt the real intent of Gogoi and his party MLAs.

Rajiv Lochan Pegu, Majuli MLA and state water resources minister, one of the four out five MLAs of Jorhat district on the dais, began the offensive by reminding the gathering at Court Field here of the education scenario that prevailed when the Congress took over from the AGP in 2001.

“It was chief minister Tarun Gogoi who was the first to promise a change in the sphere of education when he took over in 2001. Teachers now need not sit for months to get their salary every month. Classrooms, which were bereft of desks, benches and blackboards, now have got grants to be revamped. And there are innumerable schemes to encourage students to do better,” he said.

Quoting statistics, Pegu said when the Congress came to power the pass percentage in matriculation in the state and Jorhat was 33.27 and 38.51 respectively but in 2013 it has jumped to 70.71 and 74.84 per cent respectively.

The MLA, however, expressed concern over the incidents of witchcraft that had erupted in Majuli in the past one year or so, saying no amount of education would lead to the advancement of a society if superstition prevailed.

Jorhat MLA Rana Goswami added his voice to the Congress refrain.

“I remember how the Opposition jeered when the chief minister first announced awarding computers in the Assembly in 2005, probably thinking about the empty coffers which they had bequeathed to us. Since then we have delivered each year, progressing from desktops to laptops and taking up innumerable other schemes. This year, we will give out 39,000 laptops at a cost of Rs 84.25 crore. We are willing to spend even more if the number of meritorious students increases,” he said.

Rupjyoti Kurmi praised the largesse of the chief minister to schools and institutes in remote corners of the state.

The chief minister, who came in towards the end of Kurmi’s speech, also took potshots at the AGP and the BJP, the latter for discontinuing the midday meal scheme andothers meant to benefit the poor when it was at the Centre.

The Congress-led state government has stepped up efforts to reach out to the common man and also to ensure proper implementation of welfare and development schemes following the setbacks the Congress has received in four of the states which went to polls recently. There have also been murmurs from within the Congress that the party and the government need to pull up their socks before the 2014 polls. Yesterday, Gogoi had asked his adviser P.P. Varma to ensure timely implementation of all flagship programmes.