Dhumal upholds saffron fort in Himachal as party suffered reverses elsewhere

Shimla: With opposition congress in a disarray, the Prem Kumar Dhumal led BJP government pursuing a green agenda has had a smooth run through the second year of its term unlike much of north India where the party suffered serious reverses.

Midway in the year the state leadership faced its biggest challenge as it went into the Lok Sabha poll, an electoral test from Dhumal and his team.

Whereas the party fared badly in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttrakhand, not only did BJP for the first time win the Shimla seat but by winning 3 of the 4 seats in the state proved that it continued to enjoy popular support, something which the party had lost in the neighbouring states and cost BC Khanduri, the chief ministers job in Uttrakhand.

Before the year closed out, in two keenly contested by-elections the opposition and the ruling winning a seat in each others’ stronghold squared of politically but with Khushi Ram Balnatah, winning Rohru, a congress bastion of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, left the party much to cheer about.

Unable to retain the small cabinet team of nine members, the chief minister undertook an expansion in June by inducting Jai Ram Thakur and Mahender Singh as two new ministers and three others were accommodated as parliamentary secretaries. The government completes two years in office on 30th December

With benefits of the seven year old industrial package limited to attracting investments in the border districts of Solan, Sirmaur and Una and falling short on creating enough employment avenues, the government shifted gears by laying emphasis agriculture.

Two large programs, a Rs 353 crore Pandit Deen Dayal Kisan Bagwan Samridhi Yojna and a Rs 300 Crore ‘Operation Doodh Ganga’ project were launched with the objective to provide sustainable self employed diary and farming.

As a deficient monsoon impacted productivity as many regions reported crop damages, it was the government green agenda at national conferences on forestry and climate change that brought forth attention about the environmental changes coming about.

Setback for the government were its inability to get a central government committal for extending the industrial package beyond March 2010 and getting it to agree to Himachal’s demand for free royalty power from the Bhakra Beas Management Board hydropower plants.

Hoping to turn the state into an educational hub, many new institutions were opened or sanctioned. A national institute of fashion design was opened in Kangra, foundation stones of an ESI hospital and IIT in Mandi was laid in quick succession and six private universities approved by the government.

To meet water shortages of growing Shimla city, a Rs 715 crore gravity water scheme for Shimla was approved for external funding. The city’s arts were revived as the century old Gaiety Theatre came alive after a four restoration in June.

On Independence the chief minister announced implementation of the recommendations of the 5th Pay commission for employees.

Before the start of the year ender festive week the government launched a plastic cleanup campaign that has found many schools, NGO’s and PRI involvement it trying to clean up ones surrounding.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik has nurtured Hill Post for over a decade. A chequered path had him drift from managing family owned apple orchards, to turning a documentary filmmaker, to a journalist - with India’s leading television networks and newspapers, to boot strapping in founding Start-Ups. He lives in Shimla.

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