Contrary to assembly poll survey results, chief minister Harish Rawat appears sanguine about the ruling Congress returning to power in Uttarakhand. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Rawat says he will continue execution of his road map for the state’s development to check forced migration from the hills once the new government is formed after results are out on March 11.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: How confident are you about your party’s chances?
A: We are returning to power and will form the next government.
Q: There are reports suggesting that the state is either headed for a hung assembly or the opposition BJP is likely to form the government. Your take?
A: As I said earlier, we are forming the next government. In fact, our road map for the state’s development is already in place. We had started executing it after I took over a little over three years ago. Its effects have already started showing.
Q: Please elaborate.
A: When I took over, we initiated a number of initiatives to strengthen the state’s agri-pastoral economy. The step also aims to augment the people’s income so that the migration from villages could be checked.
There has also been a 32% reduction in forced migration from villages to urban areas in that (three-year) period. We will continue that process once we form our government.
Q: But you have been accusing the BJP-led Centre of not releasing funds. Won’t you continue to face that problem if you form the next government?
A: We will generate our own financial resources so that we can freely pursue our growth agenda for the state independent of central help. In fact, we have already started that process.
Q: Why has the alternative arrangement become necessary?
A: It had become necessary in the light of last year’s happenings. The Centre kept the state deprived of its annual budget for five months. The move came after they (Centre) toppled our government and replaced it with President’s rule. It was imposed on the flimsy ground of a sting video showing me offering bribes to save my government. But it was restored after we won the Supreme Court-monitored floor test. After that, the sting video had been rendered meaningless.
Q: But the CBI has lodged a case against you on the basis of that sting video.
A: Well, if the Centre persists with that (CBI inquiry), Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) will have to answer to the people in the 2019 general election. The whole country knows that the CBI inquiry had been ordered against a chief minister on the pretext of horse-trading. It’s a charge that stands demolished after our government was restored during a SC-monitored floor test. People know that the charge was levelled against a chief minister to harass him. Modiji will face this question. As it is, not much time is left for the 2019 general elections. The countdown for that will begin next year.
Q: Reports have quoted you as saying that you might enter into a post-poll alliance with independents or the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) in case of a hung assembly.
A: What I had said was that we would carry out the state’s development with the cooperation of the like-minded regional forces. There is a difference between running a state and running a government.
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