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Jostling for credit: Harish Rawat races to reach Kedarnath before Modi

Besides holding a special significance for the Hindus, Kedarnath is also a fixture in Uttarakhand politics which saw the Congress veteran, who replaced his bête noir Vijay Bahuguna to become the chief minister in early 2014, claim credit for having worked round-the-clock to rebuild the disaster-hit town.

dehradun Updated: Oct 16, 2017 09:30 IST
Anupam trivedi
Anupam trivedi
Hindustan Times
Harish Rawat,Kedarnath,Uttarakhand
Kedarnath is a fixture in Uttarakhand politics which saw Harish Rawat, who replaced his bête noir Vijay Bahuguna to become the chief minister in early 2014, claim credit for having worked round-the-clock to rebuild the disaster-hit town.(Rishi Ballabh/HT File)

Former chief minister Harish Rawat began his two-day tour on Saturday to the Kedarnath Valley where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to reach on October 20.

Rawat will reach the holy town on Sunday, address public meetings and interact with local stakeholders. On the other hand, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat’s entire cabinet is expected to accompany Modi at Kedarnath. The word is Modi will address a gathering at the shrine town which closes for the winter break on October 21.

In 2013, flashfloods left a trail of destruction as rainwater, boulders and muck came down on the Kedarnath shrine and the rest of the valley. The swollen Mandakini river claimed nearly 5,000 human lives and swept away roads, bridges and buildings that stood on its way.

Read more: Modi should release remaining disaster package for Kedar valley: Harish Rawat

Besides holding a special significance for the Hindus, Kedarnath is also a fixture in Uttarakhand politics which saw the Congress veteran, who replaced his bête noir Vijay Bahuguna to become the chief minister in early 2014, claim credit for having worked round-the-clock to rebuild the disaster-hit town.

“Everyone knows how Rawatji changed the face of the valley. He has all rights to interact with the locals,” said Surendra Kumar, spokesperson for the former chief minister.

Before beginning his journey from Rishikesh, the Congress veteran alleged that the BJP government failed in delivering “good governance” despite the huge mandate it got. Rawat had lost from Haridwar rural and Kitcha in the assembly polls that handed 57 of the total 70 assembly seats to the BJP. Kedarnath was a saving grace as the Congress snatched the seat from the BJP. The party credits the focus on Kedarnath by the erstwhile government under Rawat for the win.

Several works are going on in the shrine. For instance, huge protection walls have been erected around the temple to keep away the river water in future. A new township is yet to come up in place of the old Kedarpuri. During his visit, Modi will be inaugurating some works and is likely to lay foundation stones for new works.

Sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party assert the party intends to project Kedarnath redevelopment as a major achievement. The BJP’s Uttarakhand unit is upbeat with the PM at the helm.

“Redevelopment works in the Kedarnath valley were marred with wrongdoings during the Congress regime. Our government has ensured transparency and now with Modiji coming, the pace of development will get a boost,” BJP state president Ajay Bhatt said.

First Published: Oct 14, 2017 20:18 IST