Quest to cheer up mood of hill people

            AFTER his epochal visit to Ukhrul district on April 11, during which Rs 201-crore development package was announced, chief minister Nongthombam Biren seems to be striking the right chord in winning the hearts of the hill people and regaining their trust upon the new government, if one takes into account of the overwhelming response generated from the people of Kangpokpi district on Wednesday. Apart from the near replication of the Ukhrul visit scenario at Kangpokpi, where too people lined up on both flanks of the national highway and hosted brief reception functions, the chief minister doling out Rs 185-crore package for various infrastructure development projects in the newly created district would be instrumental in rekindling the age-old relationship amongst the various ethnic communities settling in Manipur. While setting up of the District Information Office and District Social Welfare Office at Kangpokpi would respectively enable the citizens to access information on the government’s developmental plans and policies, and to undertake social security programmes, blending the felicitation functions with the release of a 24-minute documentary film about the ‘go to the hills’ objective of the BJP-led coalition government should have sent a strong message that the N Biren government is determined to not only bridge the perceptible developmental gap between the hill and the valley areas but also promote harmonious coexistence in the pluralistic society.

              Among the recent initiatives adopted by the government, setting up of the anti-corruption cell for transparency and accountability in governance, and earmarking 10th and 15th day of every month for the public to meet ministers, MLAs and head of departments for airing grievances have received positive response from different sections of the society and such an innovative decision should be capitalised for changing mind-set and outlook of all the ethnic communities. Since formation of the new government, the state masses appear to be reposing faith upon the government that the shortcomings in various sectors would be effectively and satisfactorily addressed. Another significant comment at the Kangpokpi function was the CM’s assertion that the development works in each district, particularly in the hills, would be assisted and monitored by top bureaucrats. The assurances given to the people should be followed up by judicious and expeditious execution of public welfare programmes rather than launch projects to leave them incomplete. Interestingly, an agency report published in February this year, revealed that in the last two years of the Narendra Modi government, only one-third of assurances given by ministers in Parliament could be implemented, while almost one-fifth of them were dropped. Citing official data, the agency report stated that ministers gave 1,877 assurances in between 2015 and 2016, out of which only 552 were implemented. Having won the trust of the hill people, the main challenge for the new government will be to live up-to their expectations.

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