BJP move to hold assembly session at Gairsain a bid to evade capital issue: Uttarakhand statehood activists | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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BJP move to hold assembly session at Gairsain a bid to evade capital issue: Uttarakhand statehood activists

Statehood activists criticised the BJP government’s decision to hold the Uttarakhand assembly’s six-day session at Gairsain from December 7 alleging that the move was aimed at evading the contentious issue of permanent state capital, a tactic followed by the erstwhile Congress government.

dehradun Updated: Oct 27, 2017 20:43 IST
Deep Joshi
The Vidhan Sabha Bhawan coming up at Gairsain in Uttarakhand. Activists have long been demanding that Gairsain -- a centrally located hill town – be made a permanent capital of the state.
The Vidhan Sabha Bhawan coming up at Gairsain in Uttarakhand. Activists have long been demanding that Gairsain -- a centrally located hill town – be made a permanent capital of the state.(HT Photo)

Statehood activists criticised the BJP government’s decision to hold the Uttarakhand assembly’s six-day session at Gairsain from December 7 alleging that the move was aimed at evading the contentious issue of permanent state capital, a tactic followed by the erstwhile Congress government.

“This (BJP) government’s move to hold an assembly session at Gairsain is a political drama played with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” said statehood activist Prof Shekhar Pathak.

“The move aims to raise a false hope among the people that it (Gairsain) could be made a permanent capital.”

Veteran statehood activist Shamsher Singh Bisht agreed that the move to hold an assembly session at Gairsain aims to mislead the people. “It’s purely a part of the vote bank politics that the twin parties alternately ruling the state have been indulging since the hill state’s formation,” he said referring to the BJP and the opposition Congress.

A permanent capital has been eluding the hill state since it was carved out from Uttar Pradesh in 2000 following a long-drawn statehood agitation.

Activists have long been demanding that Gairsain - a centrally located hill town – be made a permanent capital of the state.

Such a step, they argue, would pave the way for development in the long neglected hills. The BJP that ruled the Centre and the state during its formation, however, chose to make Dehradun in plains as the interim state capital.

The issue of permanent capital came into sharp focus after former chief minister Harish Rawat announced that Gairsain would be made the state’s summer capital soon after he took charge in 2014.

The Congress veteran also pushed forward his party’s agenda of setting up a Vidhan Sabha Bhawan at Gairsain, which is now nearing completion.

The BJP had criticised the move, saying either the Congress declare it (Gairsain) a permanent capital or stop wasting crores in erecting a Vidhan Sabha Bhawan there.

The Congress administration’s move to hold a cabinet meeting and two assembly sessions at Gairsain also had invited sharp criticism from the BJP.

However, since the (BJP) came to power in March it did a political somersault announcing its decision to hold an assembly session at Gairsain.

No wonder, the move has invited a sharp criticism both from the statehood activists and analysts.

“It is a move aimed at scoring political points over the Congress,” said Prof MC Sati of HNB Garhwal (Central) University. He cautioned that both the Congress and the BJP were not interested in pushing for development in the long-neglected hills. “Were it so, they would have named Gairsain as the permanent capital long ago,” said Sati.

The academic pointed out that a permanent capital at Gairsain means ministers and planners would have to stay there.

Statehood activist Bisht said: “That will help them formulate plans from the perspective of the development requirements in the hills, which will also help check forced migration.”

Statehood activists agree that the twin parties stayed away from naming Gairsain as the permanent capital for fear of widening the hill-plain divide.

BJP state unit president Ajay Bhatt said: “That is one of the reasons why our (first) interim government couldn’t name it (Gairsain) as the permanent capital.”

State parliamentary affairs minister Prakash Pant said a resolution passed by the previous Congress regime on the floor of the House made it mandatory for the BJP to call an assembly session at Gairsain.

“Had we not called an assembly session there (Gairsain) we would still be criticised,” he said inviting a sharp criticism from the Congress.

Congress leader Surendra Aggrawal said: “They (BJP) must now aplogise to the people for criticising us for holding the assembly sessions at Gairsain.”