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Roads and bridges are meant for public use. They serve the public for
years, decades and even centuries. Do you wonder they also specially
serve a particular section? Such structures help build their image.
No, it should not be mistaken as image built by a landmark piece of
engineering for a particular place or nation or community. This is
about personal image, of politicians and also of their respective
parties. They declare open such structures, robbing all the credit off
the makers (or the construction firm) and the public money spent on
the work. It is only their names inscribed in golden letters that you
see in landmark buildings and roads. No credit is given to the real
makers of these roads, bridges and buildings.
To get the name and fame, a politician does not necessarily contribute
anything towards the work. Union minister Nitin Gadkari has come to
the North-east to inaugurate and lay foundation stones of a slew of
roads and bridges. One such road has been in use by public for nearly
two years! Gadkari is going to ‘inaugurate’ the Shillong Bypass, a
landmark road built so far in the North-east. Unfortunately, no big
leaders of the previous UPA government, under whose tenure the road
was completed in record time, could spare the time to inaugurate it.
Gadkari grabbed the chance! It is for anybody’s guess that by
‘opening’ the two-year-old road, Gadkari is not going to make it any
better. With Assam election round the corner, the union minister is on
a massive image-building operation in the North-east. And for this to
be done, he is going overboard – right from opening the two-year-old
road to laying foundation stone of a four-lane road in upper Assam
that has been hanging fire for nearly a decade!
Politicians are actually double beneficiaries of public utilities. At
first they get their “incentives” from the contractors for awarding
the work. They get their personal share of the public money for doing
something for the public. They should actually be thankful that public
has not raised any objection to their personal income from the public
projects. But, they don’t stop there. They come again to take credit
for the things built with joint effort by construction firm and
government officials. Even if they are ‘deprived’ of the early
benefits in making of the structure, they ensure that it at least
helps build their image. It does not matter if the work was initiated
by any rival party. That’s why Gadkari has stooped such low to declare
open the Shillong Bypass, the bus missed by either Sonia Gandhi or her
son Rahul Gandhi!

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on May 2, 2015)