Congress leader and former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna on Thursday said that the state government would have to push for growth and come out clean on the Opposition’s corruption charges, for the ruling party’s smooth sailing in the 2017 assembly elections.
“We should remove shortcomings relating to development and also come out clean on the Opposition’s corruption charges,” he said referring to the Congress government headed by his bête noir CM Harish Rawat.
Bahuguna’s reaction came days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the Rawat government of misappropriation of Rs 1,509 crore relief funds. The BJP has also been accusing the Rawat government of playing into the hands of land, liquor and sand mafia.
“The government should therefore expedite the process of appointing the Lokayukta so that the anti-graft Ombudsman can go into the merits of complaints and put a check on false allegations,” he said. Bahuguna suggested that the government also “act swiftly” to give a push for development as the next assembly elections were hardly one year away.
“The swift action is necessary because elections are won or lost on the image and performance of a government. The organisation (party) only facilitates campaigning”, Bahuguna, who stepped down amid allegations of mishandling of the Uttarkahand floods in 2013, told HT.
Citing the reasons behind his statement, he said literacy rate in the state was high and people were politically conscious. “The state itself was created by the people’s movement…, so they will judge the government’s performance by the difference between what we promised and what we delivered,” said Bahuguna. “So, we (government) would have to overcome our shortcomings and explain to the people the reason for our failure to perform,” he said insisting that there had been shortcomings on the front of growth and development. Citing an example, Bahuguna said the economy in the remote areas had been in bad shape. “There are a number of problems on the delivery front,” he said adding, the service conditions of employees, for example, was a serious issue and their genuine demands needed to be addressed.
Bahuguna said the CM alone could not implement the party’s development agenda. “So, it is up to them (Rawat) to take everybody along and dispel the impression that they are not group leaders…For that, they need to have the confidence of the party and legislators,” said the ex-CM who had reportedly been mounting pressure on his successor to carry out long pending cabinet expansion so that the legislators loyal to him could be accommodated.
Bahuguna had reportedly started mounting pressure on the CM to carry out a cabinet rejig since a ministerial berth fell vacant after the death of former state transport minister Surendra Rakesh. “We have different views on that issue (cabinet reshuffle),” he said while clarifying that cabinet reshuffle was CM’s prerogative.