Political atmosphere in election-bound Uttarakhand hots up with chief minister Harish Rawat reaching out to people to gather feedback and the opposition BJP dubbing the ‘mass-contact’ drive a move to cover up the Congress government’s failure.
The state will go to polls in 2017 but both parties are exchanging barbs well ahead. The Harish Rawat government has 36 members in the 70-member assembly and the BJP has 28.
Rawat addressed half-a-dozen public meetings in Udham Singh Nagar district. At a meeting at Bajpur on Wednesday, BJP workers led by Gadarpur legislator Arvind Pande staged a protest, saying the chief minister launched the programme to hide his failure to push for the state’s development.
The BJP said Rawat’s move was a sign of a growing rift between him and his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna, who had announced to carry out a similar survey to assess development in the state.
In an interview with HT, Bahuguna had criticised the Rawat government for its failure on the development front.
State BJP spokesperson Virendra Singh Bisht said Rawat feared that a similar survey would expose him badly as development eluded the state under the Congress rule.
The Congress rubbished the claims, saying the mass-contact programme has two-fold purpose.
“First, the move would help him (Rawat) get a direct feedback on development and social welfare schemes by our government over the past four years,” said Surendra Kumar, the chief minister’s media in-charge.
The programme will also help the chief minister establish a dialogue with the people, Kumar said, dismissing the opposition’s attacks about rift in the Congress.
State Congress president Kishore Upadhyay, who is touring the state with Rawat, said all senior Congress leaders were invited to participate in the chief minister’s mass-contact programme.
He said the move was a part of the party’s strategy to expand its mass base from booth level.
“The party will chalk out its campaign strategy for the assembly polls at a meeting with village, block and district level office-bearers, which would be presided over by vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Haridwar in a couple of months now,” the state Congress chief said.