Hardly had Sonowal taken oath of office when he convened that the first meeting of his council of ministers within 24 hours.
Several important decisions were taken at the meeting, which was held at the Brahmaputra State Guest House at Kharghuli on Wednesday. The agenda included abolition of all check-gates that have become hubs of syndicates and illegal activities with immediate effect.
In a meeting that lasted for almost three hours, the brand new cabinet also decided to do away with interviews for third and fourth grade government jobs in line with the central government’s policy.
Sonowal urged his ministerial colleagues to work with commitment for the welfare of the people as they have reposed full faith and confidence upon them and gave a massive mandate in favour of the new government to usher in change.
The council of ministers decided to reduce the number of vehicles in the chief minister’s convoy to the bare minimum and to do away with traffic restrictions put in place during the movement of the chief minister’s cavalcade to ensure that the public is not inconvenienced.
Director-general of police Mukesh Sahay said they would strike a balance between the chief minister’s request and the security guidelines to ensure that his security is not compromised.
“Merely talking about poriborton will not do. We want to prove from day one that we practise what we preach,” cabinet minister Ranjit Dutta said. Dutta and his colleague Pallab Lochan Das have also decided not to use red beacon lights on their vehicles.
Sonowal urged his ministers to practise austerity and utilise their time to the optimum level for the all-round development of the state, to strike a close rapport with the people, listen to their woes and redress their grievances.
He emphasised the need to achieve the goals of “maximum governance” in order to ensure that files are pushed faster and the process of decision-making is expedited.
“The meeting decided that all pending files should be cleared immediately, preferably within three days, so that the public need not make several rounds to government offices to get its work done,” an official source said.
“The precarious financial condition of the state government and ways to improve it were also discussed threadbare at the meeting. It was decided to publish a white paper on the state’s financial health within 10 days,” he said.
It is learnt that the cabinet meeting also discussed the near empty coffers of the Government. A minister in the cabinet said “The last government has left us with nothing. We will come out with a white paper on the state’s finances. This could worsen if new appointments in government jobs were to be made without adequate budgetary provisions. We will have to depend on the Centre as the 42 per cent allocation from the central pool of resources will just about be enough to survive.” the Minister said.
The Tarun Gogoi government had made the Centre’s alleged indifference towards the state’s financial needs a major issue, especially harping on the withdrawal of the special category state status.
They also said the Gogoi government had shunted out several officials who did not approve of populist measures because of the state’s “not-so-rosy” financial position.
Following the meeting, Sonowal straightaway went to the office of the state coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and took stock of the progress in updating the register.
He said preparing an error-free NRC is the topmost priority of his government.
He assured that his government would extend all possible assistance for updating the NRC.
State coordinator of NRC Prateek Hajela apprised the chief minister of various steps that have been put in motion for the update.
Chief secretary Vinod Kumar Pipersenia, additional chief secretary T.Y. Das, commissioner and secretary, home, L.S. Changsan, were present during the chief minister’s visit. Sonowal also interacted with the staff engaged in the NRC update work.