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Uttarakhand budget session: Cong trains Lokayukta gun on Rawat govt

The opposition Congress has geared up to counter the Trivendra Singh Rawat government in the budget session of the assembly over the non-appointment of Lokayukta, naming Gairsain as a permanent capital, and the national highway 74 scam, among others

dehradun Updated: Mar 19, 2018 21:07 IST
Anupam Trivedi
Anupam Trivedi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand news,Budget session,Lokayukta
Police personnel participate in a drill outside the assembly building at Gairsain in Uttarakhand on Monday. The budget session of the assembly begins on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

The opposition Congress has geared up to counter the Trivendra Singh Rawat government in the budget session of the assembly over the non-appointment of Lokayukta, naming Gairsain as a permanent capital, and the national highway 74 scam, among others.

The budget session begins at Gairsain, a hill town in Chamoli district, from Tuesday.

“The government has made tall talks on corruption-free transparent system, apart from Gairsain, but that has not been visible on the ground,” leader of opposition Indira Hridayesh said on Monday.

“We will ask the government where is Lokayukta? Lip service has no takers,” said Hridayesh, a senior Congress legislator from Haldwani.

In an interview to HT, chief minister Rawat said last week that a Lokayukta law “is redundant” in Uttarakhand as the BJP government was walking the talk on its anti-graft policy. “Where is the need for enacting a Lokayukta Bill when we have been effectively pursuing our anti-graft policy?” Rawat had said.

A select committee of the assembly had referred the Lokayukta bill to a business advisory committee which submitted its report in November last year. The Lokayukta draft bill was passed during the erstwhile BJP government headed by BC Khanduri.

Hridayesh also questioned the proposed liquor policy, the contents of which have not been made public. But some of its features shared by the excise minister suggest that the government intends to go for auctioning of liquor shops in the state.

The move, Hridayesh said, is aimed at protecting the interests of the liquor syndicate. “It seems government is going to help the syndicate in the new (liquor) policy. We will seek an explanation in the assembly.”

The Congress leader said only a few officials have been held responsible for the Rs 300-crore fraud relating to farmers’ lands in Udham Singh Nagar that were acquired to construct NH-74. “Nothing concrete has come to the fore (in the scam).”

The Congress, with 11 members in the House, plans to derail the floor management of the government during the session that is likely to continue for 7 to 10 days.

The session will begin with governor KK Paul’s address. The budget is likely to be tabled on Wednesday, said officials of the assembly secretariat. This will be the second budget of the cash-strapped BJP government.

The revenue collection has been poor. Only the sales tax after the implementation of the GST (goods and services tax) swelled the government coffers by over Rs 1,000 crore against the revenue collection target of Rs 2,000 crore, officials said.

First Published: Mar 19, 2018 21:07 IST