Chief minister Harish Rawat says he has fulfilled 90% of his promises since assuming charge in 2014. He assures the rest would be fulfilled before the 2017 assembly polls. The former Union minister claims that his initiatives were aimed to check forced migration from the hills while punching holes in the rival Bharatiya Janata Party’s allegations that his government is playing into the hands of liquor, sand and mining mafia. In an interview with Hindustan Times, he claims that the Congress would form the next government with two-thirds majority.
How do you look at your government’s performance since assuming charge two years ago?
The year 2013 was full of challenges for us because of the cataclysmic floods that hit the state. We have overcome that traumatic period…development is back on track and an atmosphere of enthusiasm and expectations is visible everywhere.
What is the focus of your planning strategy now that the election year has begun?
Welfare of women and the weaker sections of society is at the core of our policies that also aim to push for rural development and employment generation. It has now been made imperative for officials to formulate all development policies with a focus on rural development, employment generation and welfare of women, the SC and ST. Besides, we are giving pensions to 6.5 lakh people. That number will cross 7.50 lakh by the time (assembly) elections will be declared. Similarly, we have implemented 90% of the schemes we had announced.
The general impression is that you have been announcing populist schemes instead of focusing on development that could have helped check forced migration.
That is not true….We have rebuilt Kedarnath after it was ravaged by the 2013 floods. Is that not development? The volume of works relating to infrastructure development, which are being taken up now, had never happened in the past… In fact, we’ve now set up our own state construction corporation, which will give a fillip to infrastructure development… Similarly, all state-run educational institutes, from primary schools to postgraduate colleges, will have 100% teachers by the time we go to the polls. Yes, we have paucity of doctors but we hope to resolve that problem in the next few months. Such initiatives will help check forced migration.
But the BJP leaders repeatedly accuse your government of playing into the hands of land, liquor and sand mafia and also allege a massive financial bungling of the central funds meant for the reconstruction of the flood-ravaged Char Dham.
The BJP leaders think that the false allegations, if repeated frequently, would start sounding true to the people…But the canards they are spreading against us are a bunch of lies and a sign of frustration.
How do you rate Congress’ chances in the next assembly elections?
We are returning with two-thirds majority. We hope to get 45 seats in the next assembly elections. This number may go slightly down, if there is bickering (within the Congress).