Rahul Gandhi's boat journey exposes tales of graft, frustration in the land of the Brahmaputra
The Congress MP traded his usual bus for a boat, embarking on a journey across the majestic Brahmaputra to reach Majuli, the world's largest river island
Breaking away from the conventional mode of transportation, Rahul Gandhi traded his usual bus journey for a boat ride, embarking on a trip across the majestic Brahmaputra to reach Majuli, the world's largest river island as part of the Assam leg of his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.
As the boat glided through the waters of the Brahmaputra, Rahul Gandhi found himself engrossed in candid conversations with the locals on board. Beyond the mythology that surrounds the Brahmaputra, the people of Assam share a complex relationship with the river, as revealed by Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi, shedding light on the prevalent corruption plaguing the state.
Gogoi, who is accompanying Gandhi on the yatra, voiced concerns over the misuse of the state budget, emphasising that a significant portion is diverted to the Public Works Department (PWD). Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who also holds the PWD portfolio, allegedly takes a 10 per cent cut from all projects related to the department, Gogoi claimed, perpetuating a web of corruption, which was also explained to Gandhi by other people.
He was also briefed about a private school in the name of the chief minister's wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, which had led to people raising questions about the possible misuse of power and public resources.
“The surge in corruption, especially amidst rising inflation and unemployment, has left citizens frustrated. Despite the government's attempts to appease the public with financial schemes, the stark reality of corruption remains undeniable,” Gogoi said.
An unnamed person accompanying the entourage told Gandhi that the repercussions of corruption extend beyond financial mismanagement. “Women in Gauhati staged a semi-nude protest against an anti-encroachment drive, drawing attention to the unjust distribution of compensation — Rs 1,200 for women compared to a staggering Rs 10 crore allocated to the CM's wife. Additionally, Sarma's family has acquired ceiling-surplus land,” the person alleged.
Members of the public also pointed out that the construction of bridges across the Brahmaputra has led to the loss of livelihood for boat operators along the river. They cited the Bogibeel bridge in Dibrugarh, where 10,000 boatmen allegedly lost their jobs.
As Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra continues its ambitious journey, covering over 6,700 km across 110 districts and 15 states, the exposé on the alleged rampant corruption in Assam adds a critical chapter to the narrative. The yatra, set to conclude in Mumbai by 20 or 21 March, remains a beacon shedding light on the issues plaguing the diverse landscapes of India.