DEHRADUN: Chief minister Harish Rawat attended his office for the first time after the February 15 polls on Friday but displayed no signs of alarm following reports that the state is headed for a hung assembly.
“This is the time when politicians go into an overdrive to clear files of different projects and schemes that suit their or their supporters’ interests if they anticipate their party is losing an election,” an official, who did not wish to be named, said.
“We have not seen such a panic reaction from CM Rawat so far,” he said.
Officials say that Rawat is “not going about clearing files right and left”, before the poll results will be out on March 11.
Some of them, however, are taking Rawat and his cabinet colleagues’ “cool-as-a-cucumber approach” about a possible hung assembly scenario with a pinch of salt.
Reports suggest that the two main parties – the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – may not get a majority and independents may emerge as kingmakers.
“They are seasoned politicians with years of experience,” said a senior bureaucrat, referring to the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues.
“Even if they might be panicky about the reports of the poll results not going in their party’s favour, they will not publicly display their fears.”
A section of officials, however, feel that Rawat and his ministers might be getting butterflies in their stomach following reports that suggest a hung assembly.
“Such a possibility rings true due to the opposition’s (BJP) allegations that the CM cleared certain files relating to his earlier decisions that were taken just before the poll code came into effect in December,” an official said.
On Saturday, state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt alleged that the CM gave his final nod to four bottling plants under pressure from the liquor mafia.
“Rawat also cleared files giving final clearance to 100 lease deeds for mining and 60 bar licenses,” Bhatt alleged, adding that the Congress government had taken the decisions just before the poll code was imposed in the state.
The Congress rubbished the allegations. “The decisions the chief minister has taken are strictly in keeping with the norms of election commission’s model code of conduct,” said Surendra Kumar, the CM’s media in-charge.
“Bhatt should study the Constitution,” he said.
State chief electoral officer Radha Ratudi, however, said that she has not received any complaint from the BJP about violation of the model code of conduct by the CM or his government.
Anand Vardhan, principal secretary to the chief minister’s office said no policy decisions are taken by the government when the poll code is effective.
“Normal decisions relating to salary, promotion or other establishment or the decisions pertaining to ongoing projects are taken by the government,” he said.
Kumar denied that Rawat or his cabinet colleagues were nervous following reports of a hung assembly.
“None of us (Congress leaders) is nervous…We are returning to power with an absolute majority,” he said.
Chief minister Rawat echoed similar sentiment a day after the state went to the polls on February 10. “I am relaxed and confident,” he told HT.