The present Uttarakhand government completes its first year in power on the 11th of March. A lot will be written on what it has achieved and what it could not. But if we imagine for a moment that elections were due next year, then the present image of the Government would indeed be a cause of worry. The recent Pauri bye election should have rung alarm bells in the establishment.
Not many lay men could probably name more than a few ministers in the BJP government. Fewer still would probably recognize MLA’s other than their own. Most people in Uttarakhand identify this government with face of Gen. BC Khanduri. It is his government and its success or failure is a reflection of his leadership.
Just over a year ago, the defeat of the then Congress government was greeted with widespread relief and jubilation. People looked upon the incoming government as a succor of all the State’s maladies. Their expectations probably increased when an ex Army General was chosen to lead the government. Unfortunately, most of the State’s problems do not have quick military solutions and so the honeymoon vanished at the blink of the eye.
True, roads are being built, health care is improving, new electricity wires are being laid, women are being empowered etc, but where is the mark of an Army General? All these things are routine and could as well be carried out by a well meaning bureaucrat. Doing good routine work is not a sign of a great leader. The previous Congress Government was doing routine work equally well.
Taking credit for the starting of Maneri Bhali Project, as the Government did in a self congratulatory advertisement a few days ago, shows lack of real issues to take credit for. Started in 1979 and revived in 2002, the credit for this project should perhaps go to the then Congress Government. Similarly if banning cow slaughter was an important issue for the people, BJP would have won Pauri hands down.
What people are looking for is the distinctive mark of Gen. Khanduri on governance. People are waiting for bold out of the box decisions with far reaching consequences, which would reflect the tall stature of our Chief Minister. Claiming good routine work as an achievement diminishes the stature of Gen. BC Khanduri. Unfortunately, over the last one year, difficult decisions seem to have been brushed under the carpet.
The Dixit Commission, on identifying a permanent capital of Uttarakhand, continues to huff and puff since 2004 and has been given extension after extension. What should have been a political decision has been delegated to technocrats.
Action on corruption is not very obvious to lay people and is also not listed as one of the achievements of the last one year of BJP’s governance. The general perception is that it is as bad as it ever was.
Migration of men from hills continues as before. The Congress Government tried to provide young people with employment in the plains of Uttarakhand. The present government continues with the same policy. Meanwhile the villages in hills of Uttarakhand continue to be women’s only.
The plight of women in hills continues to be as bad as it ever was. Who has not seen women with unimaginable load strapped on their backs trekking up the hills? Their problems do not even find a mention in the self congratulatory advertisements of the government. Similarly the plight of Bal Grahs and Nari Niketans all over the State need urgent attention.
Uttarakhand is one of the few states to lag behind in the implementation of e-governance. This has a direct negative impact on Government transparency and accountability. The previous Congress Government hardly did anything in this direction. Gen Khanduri’s government simply seems to continue that policy.
Pollution in our State is increasing by leaps and bounds. Rivers and their banks are increasingly being polluted, fragile ecospheres in the mountains are under increasing stress on account of un-regulated human activity, and unlawful river quarrying is as rampant as it ever was. Towns all over Uttarakhand are turning into garbage dumps. The Congress Government did little other than paying lip service to these issues. Is this Government different?
An interesting observation on the Governments self congratulatory advertisement was the absence of the Uttarakhand Land Act, in its list of achievements. Is the Government having doubts on the necessity and efficacy of the Land Act? If it is, then it must accept it. Acknowledging and reversing mistakes is a mark of a great Statesman.
True, that one year is too less to achieve all the things people desire. To live up to his image, Gen. BC Khanduri needs to be seen as stepping out of the normal routine and introducing far reaching reforms in governance and society. Routine governance should be left to lesser mortals.
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