Demonetisation of high-value banknotes hit tourism hard in Uttarakhand, chief minister Harish Rawat said here on Sunday.
“The ‘Dilli wale baba’ (referring to PM Narendra Modi) declared ₹500 and ₹1000 notes invalid and tourists’ flow to Uttarakhand was affected badly,” Rawat said after inaugurating an international cricket stadium here and laying the foundation of the Haldwani International Zoo Safari.
He lashed out at the BJP and the Congress rebels who defected to the saffron party, calling them wrestlers. “Some wrestlers are saying they will pulverise Harish Rawat, cut my neck. These people brought no-confidence motion against my government, and got President rule imposed on the state. Do you want these people to succeed?” asked the chief minister, making an emotional appeal to people, mostly Congress activists, who attended the programme.
The government programme turned out to be a show of the Congress strength, a reply to BJP president Amit Shah’s rally in Haldwani on December 7.
Listing his achievements, the CM said his government was giving pensions to 7.25 lakh people, which, he claimed, was the highest among the states. “If you elect me, I will take the number to 10 lakh beneficiaries,” he said.
Rawat said he would make a Riverfront Development Scheme for the Gaula river in Haldwani, “a place I loved immensely.” He said the residential university, to be set up in Almora, would be on the lines of the Jawahar Lal Nehru University in New Delhi.
“Please defeat the wrestlers that are after me as I am not a liar like them. Did I tell you that I will put ₹15 lakh in your bank accounts, did I tell you that I will give food for free. I only said that I will reduce the price of wheat, which is a real promise,” he said.
Finance minister Indira Hridyesh, revenue minister Yashpal Arya, sports minister Dinesh Aggarwal and panchayat minister Pritam Singh were present at the programme. Arya was earlier miffed when he was not invited to the foundation-laying programme of the ISBT at Gaulapar and when his photo was not put up on a flex board during the Satat Vikas Yatra in Kashipur on December 8.
The Haldwani International Zoo is proposed to be built at Gaulapar in three years at ₹100 crore. The stadium was built at ₹65 crore and the Indira Gandhi international sports complex is being built at ₹192 crore. The stadium with 12,000 sitting capacity can accommodate 22,000 spectators without seats.
The Haldwani zoo, spread over 412 hectares, will rank among top 5 zoos in the country, officials said. The zoo -- touted as India’s first carbon neutral zoo – will include mono rail, toy train, tiger, leopard and deer safari, aquarium, African safari, butterfly park, crocodile pool, biodiversity park, knowledge centre, primate zone, and a jogging park.
BJP and Samajwadi Party workers tried to show black flags to the chief minister, but they were arrested outside the stadium and taken to Lalkuan police station.