The Telegraph
Saturday , March 15 , 2014
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Grow rice, eat rice, says AAP leader

- Jorhat nominee’s take on ending poverty
Aam Aadmi Party candidate Manoram Gogoi from Jorhat speaks to reporters on Friday. Picture by UB Photos

Jorhat, March 14: Manoram Gogoi, the Aam Aadmi Party candidate for Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency, has a different take on how to eradicate poverty and unemployment from Assam — change food habits.

Addressing a news conference here today, Gogoi said a rice-producing state should go back to eating rice-based meals and snacks instead of wheat or semolina-based food.

“Assam has seen a lot — the six-year Assam Agitation followed by 10 years of misrule by the leaders of the Agitation, militant activity, the present Congress rule — but none of the problems seem to have been resolved,” Gogoi said.

“Chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s constituency Titabor is a case in point. The people still do not have clean drinking water and are forced to consume impure water from wells or ponds or arsenic-infected water from tubewells. There is no electricity in many places, the border problem with Nagaland makes life insecure, many are yet to get land papers and education and health facilities are also very poor,” he said.

“When I look into the innocent eyes of my 11-year-old daughter and her friends in school, I don’t want a life in which she is thrown into a world where there is rape, murder, corruption and insecurity of life and property,” the AAP leader said, adding that the root cause of all the problems was poverty and huge unemployment and it was time for a rethink.

Picking out Jorhat and Sivasagar districts, from which he would be contesting, Gogoi said these two places were the most prosperous and literate, yet there was a very high unemployment rate. Explaining how such unemployment could be reduced, the AAP candidate said he would have to go to the rural base and build up a mindset where everyone went back to eating rice and its products.

“Nowadays in ceremonies we prefer eating puris and lusees. Our breakfast comprises parathas, rotis and bread. We are spending a huge amount of money in importing wheat and its products. If we start eating rice-based products like sira doi (flat rice with curd) and kumol saul (a type of soft rice), pithaguri (rice powder) and muri (puffed rice) then we will be producing as well as consuming, thus maintaining a balance. In south India, where rice is also the staple, they consume dosas and idlis, besides taking these out of their states and making them popular elsewhere. But we tend to look down upon our traditional food stuff,” he said.

Gogoi said Bhogali Jalpan was one such enterprise that had thrived by going indigenous and in each sphere of life people should look to their roots to move forward.

Regarding the move where about 1,000 AAP members left the party, including Jorhat district president Jima Sharma and Jorhat town committee president Gunin Basumatary, and joined Trinamul Congress within hours of announcement of his name as the candidate, Gogoi said it happened because of a misunderstanding.

He said after the AAP had announced that it would contest the election, new national campaign, state campaign and constituency campaign committees were formed and all other committees were dissolved.

“Probably this did not go down well with them,” he said.