Uttarakhand cabinet – old wine in new bottle: Khanduri fails to induct fresh team

Dehra Dun : – Though newly sworn-in chief minister Maj Gen (retd) B C Khanduri may have made an effort to convince the masses that he is sincere in eradicating corruption that has become all-prevalent in the this tiny mountain state, but the feeling by and large is that with things may not change much at the grass root level, as all the ministers in the Nishank cabinet have been inducted and no new face introduced.

In his maiden press conference after taking over as chief minister, Khanduri said that all IAS and IPS officers in the state had been asked to disclose their assets by Oct 15, would work to bring about legislations for strengthening the office of the Lokayukta in Uttarakhand, bring the office of the chief minister under the ambit of the Lokayukta to make its functioning more transparent And also bring about a public services bill to ensure greater accountability doe public servants and confiscating wealth amassed by illegal means.

Without wanting to be quoted, a senior leader of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) said that all this sounds very good on paper and send the message that the chief minister means business in his second tenure, but how does he intend doing this when his team comprises the same faces that was in the Nishank government.

“When the Nishank government could not deliver, how can one expect the same team to deliver under a new chief minister”, he asked.

He said that it was like asking those very members of the Indian cricket team, that had suffered humiliation by losing all the games it played in England recently, to win the remaining games, just by changing Dhoni as the captain.

“There is no political will, which was evident from the fact that the tenure of the Nishank government so a complete slide in the affairs of the state, forcing even the BJP high command to take note of the rot, and remove the chief minister”, he claimed.

Though the chief minister will be shuffling his deck of ministers later in the day and giving them fresh portfolios, but insiders claim that some of the established leaders like Matbar Singh Kandari, Diwakar Bhatt and Trivendra Singh Rawat may throw their weight around to get the portfolios of their choice.

Incidentally, it came as surprise to many that the same 11 took the oath of office after the chief minister on Sunday, as most were expecting induction of new faces, as it would have at least sent the message that those who did not deliver had been removed.

Ironically, the coterie that was close to Khanduri when he was chief minister in his earlier stint from 2007 to 2009, has also resurfaced and insiders revealed that Umesh Aggarwal, a businessman who it is alleged was instrumental in getting things done, was again closeted with the chief minister at his residence on Monday night.

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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