Shimla / Dharamsala: Unfinished agenda from chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal earlier term is back center stage as the ruling party in election year mulls taking a call again about creating new districts in the state that could help it to return to power later in the year.
Talking to Hill Post, Dhumal said that a decision about new districts would be soon taken.
“The issue is very much under active consideration of the government but wishes of the people would be taken into account before any decision is taken,” said Dhumal.
Though senior revenue officials denied that any exercise had been done to delineate revenue circles for creation of any new district but political circles are agog with new entities being carved out of Kangra district.
However, a senior BJP leader from Kangra revealed that much of the exercise of giving identity to new districts had been completed.
On conditions of anonymity he said, “consensus was emerging for creating the districts of Nurpur and Dehra by redrawing the boundaries of Kangra district.
The move has even caused a public spat between industry minister Kishan Kapoor, who represents Dharamsala and Rakesh Pathania, an independent MLA from Nurpur but is an associate member of BJP in the Vidhan Sabha.
While Kapoor is fiercely opposing any breakup of the politically powerful Kangra district, Pathania had threatened to hold a protest before the deputy commissioner office and burn the effigy of the minister for opposing Nurpur as a new district.
A truce was settled for at the intervention of state BJP president Satpal Satti.
“Representations for creation of new districts from various regions had been made before the chief minister and we have insisted that the issue be discussed within the party before the government takes any decision. The party would discuss the issue sometime next month,” said Satti.
Handing over a demand memorandum to deputy commissioner Kangra yesterday about creating Nurpur district, Pathania was also critical of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh for opposing the move.
Kangra is a vast district and one needed smaller administrative units. People are within their rights to demand a new district,” he said addressing a public gathering.
Earlier Ramesh Dhawala, minister for food and civil supplies who represents Jwalamukhi constituency is said to have endorsed the demand for spinning off Dehra as a separate district.
While the focus is on Kangra that sends 15 legislators to a house of 68 members, Kushi Ram Balnatah, MLA from Rohru has demanded that a new district be created out in Shimla district also.
Presently the state has 12 districts which includes the two high altitude tribal districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti that together have a population of 1.16 lakhs being represented by one MLA each.
“In my representation to the chief minister,” said Balnatah, “I have stated that as in the earlier BJP government, offices of additional deputy commissioners (ADCs) had been set up in Sarkaghat, Dehra, Karsog, Nurpur and Rohru with the intention of making new districts, Rohru be considered for a new district if the issue is before the governments consideration.”
While the earlier Dhumal government plans creating new districts in 2002 fell flat because of opposition from within the party, revisiting the issue a decade later that too in an election year is being weighed against the political dividends it could fetch the party as it launches its ‘Mission Repeat’ election campaign.
With inputs from Arvind Sharma