Bahuguna plays up gairsain issue with by election in mind

Dehra Dun : Though the recent announcement of chief minister Vijay Bahuguna that he will hold a cabinet meeting and thereafter a session of the Uttarakhand vidhan sabha in Gairsain is being taken with a pinch of salt, but political observers here feel that it is in line to woo the electorate of the Garhwal region, with his election in mind.

It may be recalled that it has been a popular demand of the people of Uttarakhand that the state capital be situated at Gairsain, located at a height of 5740 feet and mid way between the Garhwal and Kumaon divisions. However, the bureaucracy seeing its own convenience nipped this demand in the bud and made Dehra Dun the state capital.

Besides, the chief minister who is a member of the Lok Sabha from Pauri has to contest and be elected to the vidhan sabha within six month of taking oath, that was on March 13, meaning whereby that latest by Sept 13 he has to locate an assembly segment to contest, get the sitting MLA to vacate and then win from the constituency.

Obviously the first hurdle is which Congress MLA will vacate his or her seat, or will they woo some BJP legislator to do so and this done, will it be a cake walk for Bahuguna. With rumours strife that former chief minister Maj Gen B C Khanduri, who lost from the Kotdwara assembly segment may be fielded by the BJP against the chief minister, the contest could go either way.

Though Khanduri and Bahuguna have in the past refused to contest against each other on the plea that they are first cousins, but it is perhaps for the first time that the former chief minister has made it clear that he will go by the decision of the party high command and contest against Bahuguna if told to do so.

Even as political observers here feel that the odds are stacked highly in favour of a sitting chief minister to win a by-election, but there have been occasions in the past when as in the case of Shibu Soren, of Jharkhand that the sitting chief minister has lost. And then there is a strong sympathy factor in favour of Khanduri which could tilt the scales, they felt.

Aware that he faces a tough contest ahead, Vijay Bahuguna is raking up issues that are linked to the masses. And hence his recent announcement to hold a cabinet meeting and later a session of the vidhan sabha in Gairsain. Though there are no buildings to house the ministers and staff and conduct a session of the vidhan sabha, the chief minister said that tent colonies would be erected if required for the session.

However, political observers were of the view that the chief minister has made the statement purely with his by-election in mind so that he can choose an assembly segment which is most affected by making Gairsain the state capital and forget about it after winning the election, or else he will be making a financial blunder.

To press home their point they said that Jammu and Kashmir suffers huge financial losses when the state capital is shifted from Srinagar to Jammu and likewise, Himachal Pradesh also has to burn a hole in its exchequer, when it shift the capital from Shimla to Dharamshala. Can Uttarakhand which is under tremendous financial constraints afford to do the same, they asked.

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A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish had worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.

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