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'Election manifesto promises can't be implemented easily'

Last updated on: April 5, 2012 08:44 IST

'Election manifesto promises can't be implemented easily'


Shishir Prashant

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna tells Shishir Prashant infighting within the Bharatiya Janata Party is more severe in the state than in the ruling Congress.

Despite several attempts, infighting within the ruling Congress in Uttarakhand has not stopped. This is becoming a stumbling block to the functioning of the government. What do you have to say?

You see it as infighting. But for me, these are challenges within the party that we are facing. Most of these have now been overcome. It is a race that we all have to win.

But you continue to face opposition from Harish Rawat- and Satpal Maharaj-led groups within the party.

Not at all. They are my friends. There is no bitterness. Whatever happened in the past is now a forgotten chapter. We are making a new beginning. I have already reviewed the financial health of the state.

So, what is the financial position of the state?

Of the total budget outlay of Rs 21,000 crore, approximately Rs 13,000 crore goes to the non-plan side, which needs to be curtailed. Significantly, in 2006-07 (when the Congress was in power during the N D Tiwari rule), we had a revenue surplus of Rs 900 crore. Now, the revenue deficit stands at Rs 13 crore. So, the financial position of the state is not good.

The debt and overdraft limit has also touched a saturation level. Naturally, financial sickness has set in. So, what should be done? We have to increase our revenue resources by further activating our tax structure. We will not impose fresh taxes, but we will do something to earn more.

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Image: Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna


'BJP finding it difficult to digest it has been voted out of power'

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Don't expect miracles overnight, as promises made in the election manifesto cannot be implemented easily. We have to plug the loopholes to put the state back on the track. Moreover, we have to make power available to our industry. We are facing 150 megawatt (Mw) of power shortage in the state.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has been trying to exploit the fluid political situation within the ruling Congress and claims the secret polling ballot was not used during the trust vote in the state Assembly.

We brought the trust vote because the BJP was desperate. But when we did it, the party staged a walkout during the voting. The same voting system has been used 27 times earlier in the country during such motions. Though we have already proved our majority through the election of the speaker, we brought the trust vote to clear the doubts being created by the opposition.

Moreover, we have got 32 seats -- one more seat than the BJP. The mandate to rule is with us, not with the BJP. The people of the state gave the mandate to the Congress. So, we staked our claim with the support of the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and three independents to form the government before Governor Margaret Alva, by submitting a letter of support of 39 MLAs. Subsequently, our party was invited to form the government. I think the BJP is still finding it difficult to digest that it has been voted out of power.

The BJP is daydreaming to dislodge us and form the government due to some internal crisis in the Congress. But I want to make it clear that the infighting in the BJP is more severe.

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Image: The BJP flag

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'Until I win my seat, I will not draw salary or enter CM's official residence'

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Will you order an enquiry against scandals under the BJP government?

I am not vindictive. I don't believe in a harassment agenda. I believe in continuity of the government. But to stop corruption, I have decided to set up vigilance cells in all departments and start e-tendering.

There are reports that you want a BJP MLA seat to contest elections. What do you have to say?

First, I want to make it clear that they should not get frightened of me. I will not take away their (BJP's) MLA seat. But until I win my seat, I will not draw my salary or enter the chief minister's official residence. Till then, I will continue to stay here (Bijapur government rest house).

But the BJP must set its own house in order. The party does not have any leader of opposition with whom I can interact. It is funny that the BJP has failed to nominate its own leader of the opposition because of infighting.

There is still a vacancy in the Cabinet. Who is going to be the lucky one?

There are several candidates for this post. We will fill that position soon.

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Image: A cut out of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is seen through the Congress party flag
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters

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'For emotional reasons, development work should not be stopped'

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Harak Singh Rawat (MLA from Rudraprayag) wants to become the deputy chief minister...

See, this decision has to be taken by the party high command. Let's see what happens and who gets that berth.

Activists like Anna Hazare and G D Agarwal have demanded a total ban on the hydel projects on the Ganga river and its tributaries. The prime minister has also convened a meeting of the Ganga River Basin Authority on April 17 in this regard. What is your view?

Power is the basic resource for all economic activities. We all need power -- for which we have to build hydel projects by striking a balance between the environment and development. We have to take the advice of experts for the purpose. After all, they (Anna Hazare and G D Agarwal) are not experts. If the Ganga river is sacred for them, it is sacred for everybody. For emotional reasons, development work should not be stopped. They say the flow of the river stops due to hydel projects. But this happens only during winters. Why stop power generation for the remaining nine months?

I will also meet the central leaders to get gas for our state. We have to run gas-based power projects as well as CNG gas stations to keep our environment clean. I will also talk to the ministry of environment and forests to set up a regional office in Dehradun, as we have to rush to Lucknow to seek clearances for projects.

The Centre has scrapped three major projects, including National Thermal Power Corporation's 600-Mw Loharinag Pala on the Bhagirathi river. Would you be trying to revive these?

The Centre is ready to compensate. NTPC has been assured Rs 2,200 crore by the Central government.

What is your vision for the state? Are you bringing any policy for the industrial sector?

Industries will come to Uttarakhand. Land is not a problem here, but shortage of power is. My main focus will be to improve the power scenario in the state, giving an impetus to the development process. Only future will tell how imaginative and efficient I am. I have the goodwill of my father (Hewatinandan Bahuguna), but I will also show my worth.

At the same time, we want to make Dehradun a vibrant city. We are getting funds to the tune of Rs 800-600 crore under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Renewable Urban Mission. I will do my best to give a facelift to the city. I have already held a meeting of the concerned officials and instructions have already been given. All problems of congestion and sanitation will be addressed. You will now see flyovers and wide roads in the city.

Image: River Ganga
Photographs: Reuters

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