17 years on, no consensus on capital

dehradun Updated: Nov 07, 2017 20:50 IST
Neha Pant
Neha Pant
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Gairsain,Ajay Bhatt

Located about 260km away from Dehradun, Gairsain is equally accessible from both Garhwal and Kumaon administrative regions.(HT Photo)

DEHRADUN: Gairsain and the demand for a permanent capital — inextricably linked with politics and ethos of the mountain state ever since its formation — are again at centre stage after the Trivendra Singh Rawat-led BJP government decided to hold the assembly session at the hill town in December.

Both the Congress and the BJP have blown hot and cold over the years and accused each other of failing to take a conclusive decision on the long pending demand for a permanent capital by the people from the hills. Nonetheless, funds worth about Rs 122 crore have been disbursed so far for setting up the Vidhan Sabha Bhavan at Bhararisain. The erstwhile Congress government had convened assembly sessions there and the BJP government, too, has decided to follow suit.

BJP state president Ajay Bhatt, who in the past opposed the erstwhile Congress government’s plan to hold assembly sessions at Gairsain, said the BJP government’s stand was clear — setting up summer and winter capital at Gairsain and Dehradun, respectively. “They (the Congress leaders) held sessions without any clarity on their intention on the capital issue while ours (intention) is clear. Our CM has made it clear that we will make Gairsain the summer capital of the state in the next five years,” Bhatt said, adding that the BJP government was busy giving a push to basic infrastructure in the hill town.

Located about 260km away from Dehradun, Gairsain is equally accessible from both Garhwal and Kumaon administrative regions. Dehradun, on the other hand, is nestled right at the foothills of Garhwal hills and the people from Kumaon face difficulties accessing the “faraway” capital at Dehradun.

On Tuesday, members of the Uttarakhand Mahila Manch - a women’s body that actively participated in the state formation movement - staged a protest at Clock Tower to protest against the government’s announcement to make Gairsain the state’s ‘summer capital’.

“The two national parties (BJP and Congress) have only misled the masses in the name of the state capital over the years. None of the parties is serious about delivering (on the capital issue) and all they want to do is create drama to suit their political interests,” said Kamala Pant, statehood activist and central coordinator of the Manch.

The opposition Congress, meanwhile, alleged that the BJP government was trying to “escape” from the real issue of having a permanent capital in the hills. “First of all, the BJP should apologise to the people of Uttarakhand as it (the NDA government led by then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee) failed to make a permanent capital unlike it did for the other two states (Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh that were formed along with Uttarakhand in 2000),” Congress leader Surendra Kumar said. “And if they are so serious, then why have two separate capitals? Why not make just one permanent capital to ensure proper development of the hills?”

Pritam Singh, president of state Congress, alleged that the ruling BJP’s stand was contradictory in itself. “They talk about making Gairsain the summer capital and are holding the winter (assembly) session there. Why don’t they come clean on their intention for a permanent capital?” Kishore Upadhyay, former state head of the Congress, asserted Uttarakhand should preferably have one permanent capital and said that it was the former Congress government that had worked to upgrade infrastructure in Gairsain.

First Published: Nov 07, 2017 20:50 IST