Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha countdown: If you can’t convince voters – befool them

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Dehra Dun : If you cannot convince them, confuse them, is an old saying. Uttarakhand chief minister, B C Khanduri toeing the line has gone a step ahead – if you cannot convince them befool them. At least this is what he is doing as the countdown to vidhan sabha elections in the state starts.

Apparently convinced that his promise of a transparent and clean administration with the babudom delivering to the masses in a given a time period will not materialize, he is now banking upon development projects to repeat the BJP government.

On Saturday, the chief minister was on a foundation laying spree, laying foundation stones for projects worth Rs 148.62 crores.

Knowing well that many of the projects whose foundation stone he has laid will be confined just to the foundation stone level as neither is there any budgetary allocation for them, nor has the centre granted funds for them, Khanduri is keeping his fingers crossed that they will be enough to befool the masses, to give it a second consecutive term in office.

Of the total projects whose foundation stone was laid, projects totaling Rs 98 crores are supposed to come up in Garhwal division of the state, and the remaining in the Kumaon division of Uttarakhand.

The publicity given to the foundation laying ceremonies of these projects was also an indication that the chief minister now wants to take the plank of development and lay as many foundation stones as possible before the moral code of conduct comes into force.

Ironically, the promise of streamlining the administration and giving a clean and efficient administration, which were given widespread publicity when Khanduri was replaced as chief minister in place of Ramesh Pokhriyal have now been pushed to the background.

One hardly sees or hears then any more as corruption and inefficeinecy continue to be the hall marks of the present government.

Sources in the BJP, however, said that it was the Congress that had raised the issue of development in the state, as it was afraid that if it made corruption a major plank in the coming vidhan sabha elections, it may stand to lose because of the scams involving the UPA government at the centre and also the strong support being given to Anna Hazare on issue of the Lokpal Bill.

It was because of this that the foundation stone of the Rishikesh-Karanprayag railway line was laid in a hurry at Gairsain.

Initially the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was supposed to lay it so that the Congress got direct gains from it, but she could not come at the last minute.

Even then the Congress party in Uttarakhand started harping on development being its keystone and making it the major plank in the coming elections.

BJP sources said to take the issue of development head-on with the Congress, the advisers of the chief minister also felt that foundation stones of various projects should be laid in various parts of Uttarakhand to convey the message that the state government was also keen towards development.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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