Dehra Dun : Even as the centre has become pro-active on the rehabilitation of Uttarakhand that was devastated by the June 16-17 floods and subsequent incessant rains, fearing a backlash against the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections due next year, there are fears of severe repercussions not only in this small mountain state, but other parts of the country also.
The complete disarray of the official machinery in Uttarakhand, its inability to rescue the large number of people stranded at various places in the higher altitudes, not being able to provide relief to the needy though relief material was rotting in godowns and being misappropriated by the babudom, and not being able to put any system in place even after 45 days is going to have a telling impact, which only time will tell.
In the over 12 years that Uttarakhand came into being, the state governments have not been able to have a coordinated system for the char dham yatra, whish is the mainstay of its pilgrimage, touted as tourism by the over-enthusiastic bureaucracy in official books, merely to inflate the number of tourists arriving to this small mountain state. The devastating floods exposed the sheer neglect of work at the ground level whereas on official records everything was immaculate.
While it is an open secret now that the Congress may say good bye to all the five Lok Sabha seats in the state, what is troubling the party leaders at the national level is the fallout that the callousness of the Vijay Bahuguna government may have in other states also. It is well known that a large number of pilgrims come for the yatra from Maharashtra, Gujerat, Rajasthan and west Bengal and they were present this time also.
The fact that they saw the lethargy and sheer neglect of the Congress government in Uttarakhand following the tragedy, that thousands had to run from pillar to post to get rescued, that the babudom was making the most of the difficult times the pilgrims were facing by taking money to take them to safety, that the relief money was being pocketed and leaders were flying in the choppers to show their importance, has been etched in their memories.
The Congress high command feels that there is going to be a backlash of this insensivity at the crucial juncture by the Uttarakhand government not only in this small mountain state but the other states also from where a sizeable number of pilgrims had come. It is apparently because of this that the centre has become pro-active on the rehabilitation of Uttarakhand, even as the state machinery is not even in a position to provide the required road map for the process.
In fact some of the senior Congress leaders here, who are openly voicing their concern at the ship-shod manner in which the Bahuguna government is handling the relief and rescue operations, minced no words when they said that it will be no surprise if Uttarakhand becomes the key issue in the Lok Sabha elections. Should this happen and the opposition parties decide to encash upon it, there could be problems for the Congress.
True that the Congress-led UPA government at the centre is coming out with some schemes like direct cash subsidy transfer and the Food Bill to ensure food for all, but the benefits of these may take time to percolate. Further will their benefits be high enough for the people to forget the incapability and inefficiency of the Uttarakhand government to save lives and provide relief when people were crying to be saved.