‘Suraaj’, a political pipedream of Uttarakhand Chief Minister

Dehra Dun: Though B C Khanduri has established a new Suraaj (good governance) department, but with it yet to get the required infrastructure, including a secretary, there is a feeling that the focus of the chief minister is more on controlling, if not eradicating, corruption, which had been the bane of the Uttarakhand government during the tenure of his predecessor.

The people by and large are skeptical that the rampant corruption prevalent in the state will be controlled, forget eradicated, as the general perception is that over the years the malaise has taken very deep roots and cannot be wished away.

“The chief minister has no magic wand with which he can get rid of the problem, and unless and until strong punitive action is not taken against the guilty, the problem is going to persist”, is the general opinion.

Walk into any office, may it of the civil supplies department, the RTO, the election office or for that matter even the regional passport office, which is controlled by the centre, the babus seem to be having a field day.

In fact, the babus rather than trying to solve the matter, only complicate it further, which forces the people to go the mercy of the middlemen who are very conspicuous by their presence outside all the offices of the state and central governments.

“If the government is sincere in eradicating corruption, why are the middlemen allowed to open their stalls outside the various offices. It is well known that they are the ones who do the work for a fee, and the fee that they take is shared by the babus in the office. The state government should ensure that all such middlemen outside the offices are forced to go, which will send the desired message”, said a retired colonel Suresh Chandra.

And even the talk of ‘Suraaj’ is being taken with a pinch of salt.

“How can one expect good governance, when an important thing like ration card, which is a must not only for getting ration at controlled prices but also for identification purposes is out of stock in the office. People have been approaching the office for more than two months to get a ration card made and they are told that there are no cards in stock. Can one believe that in the state capital, under the very nose of the government, the concerned authorities have not been in a position to make ration cards available to the department for over two months, and one talks of good governance”, opined a house wife Manju.

A senior Congress leader Vinod Chandola said that it is very obvious that Khanduri is playing to the gallery with the Vidhan Sabha elections in mind.

“One must recall that when he first became chief minister in 2007, Khanduri set up a committee to probe some over 50 allegations against the previous Congress government, but the committee never gave its report though four years have passed. Obviously the chief minister is only keen to make news, by coming out with popular statements, but at the ground level nothing happens”, said Chandola.

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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