Uttarakhand Speaker sets cat loose among pigeons

Dehradun : The recent statement of Uttarakhand Speaker, Govind Singh Kunjwal, that social, political and bureaucratic corruption was eating the vitals of this small mountains state and the need of the hour was all citizens to fight against it, has released a cat amongst the pigeons, with hectic efforts being made for a damage control exercise.

While the state Congress leadership has tried to distance itself from the statement made by the Speaker to the media, but it is bringing the matter to the notice of the party high command. The plea that is being taken is that with the Lok Sabha elections likely any time in the near future, it could create problems for the party that has four of the five parliamentary seats in its kitty.

Realising that the issue was very sensitive in as much that it could give a whipping handle to the opposition BJP in the state, which lost by a razor this margin in the last vidhan sabha elections being just one down in the number of seats won, the state Congress leadership had the lone Bahujan Samajwadi, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and independent MLA who are ministers in the government take upon the Speaker.

However, wording their words carefully, they said that they were not voicing their discontent with the Speaker’s statement, but were proposing to him to make the names of the corrupt in the state government public, so that a probe could be conducted against them by an independent agency. However, they did not name the agency for conducting the probe.

Claiming that the sweeping statement by the Speaker was also maligning or tarnishing their image as they were also ministers in the state government, they said that Kunjwal himself could get the corrupt officers or ministers probed, and as such if he was really concerned of the so-called all prevalent corruption he should expose the guilty.

Meanwhile political observers here felt that the groupism in the state unit of the Congress was the reason behind the outburst by the Speaker, who is said to belong to the Harish Rawat group. Incidentally Rawat, despite having the support of the majority of the MLAs, lost out to his bête noire, Vijay Bahuguna in the race for the chief minister’s chair and continues to nurse a grudge.

After the debacle of the Congress in the recently concluded elections to the local bodies and the party faring poorly in Hardwar Lok Sabha seat, which is currently held by Rawat, the union minister took the responsibility for the rather bad performance in the parliamentary constituency. It is being felt that Rawat had Kunjwal make the statement to tarnish the image of the chief minister and hold the prevalent corruption in the state, responsible for the local bodies’ debacle, observers opined.

Asserting that the groupism within the party could take new heights in the coming days, with the naming of the state Congress chief on the cards and distribution of tickets for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, they said that the battle of words had only started and the worst was yet to come as the struggle for one upmanship becomes more severe.

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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