Dehradun : Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna seems to be spending more time in Delhi placating the Congress top brass, rather than in the state where things seems to be in complete disarray.
In fact wags have started retorting that if the chief minister could only spend and spare more time at home, perhaps he will be able to put things in order, thereby sparing the aam aadmi of the travails of zero governance.
The chief minister seemed to be in a tearing hurry to resume the char dham yatra. No doubt it takes the pride of place in the priorities that need to be done as the economy of the upper reaches in the state is completely dependent upon the yatra and the quicker it resumes, the better for the economy of the upper reaches of the state and its residents. But in doing so he should have avoided putting the cart before the horse, which seems to have been done.
Even as full page multi-coloured advertisements in daily national and regional newspapers announced the restarting of the yatra after 111 days of the June 16-17 holocaust, only the group of pilgrims that left for Kedarnath shrine could make it.
Those who had left for Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib could not make it as huge boulders following a landslide near Pinola, about 16 kms from Joshimath, forced the group of pilgrims to the shrines to return.
Even those who went to Kedarnath shrine, though happy and content that they had made it despite the odds, did not mince words to say that much was needed for the facilities of the pilgrims and that the Uttarakhand government had not made elaborate arrangements.
“It was only faith which kept us moving ahead as the route is in complete disarray and there are a host of challenges that the pilgrims have to encounter”, was the common remark.
Apparently the chief minister who has come under a lot of flak from various corners, including the Congress high command for not being able to restore the conditions and the poor relief and rehabilitation work after the June 16-17 holocaust, seems to be wanting to send the message that all is now well in the affected areas. The only way, he presumes this can be done is to restart the char dham yatra, even if the route requires much to be done.
In fact politicians here have started openly saying that his tenure as chief minister has been jinxed and from day one there have been obstacles in his path.
If first it was his bête noire, union minister for water resources Harish Rawat who raised the bogey of discontent, it has now multiplied, with some of his own supporters now joining the bandwagon. Senior party functionary and MP, Satpal Maharaj also said that the chief minister selected the wrong date for the token prayers at the Kedarnath shrine.
Now there is open talk of the high command thinking in terms of replacing the chief minister. It is only perhaps the elections to the five states that have been announced by the Election Commission which will be going on polls in November and early December that is postponing the date of a new chief minister being announced to replace Bahuguna. Lobbies for and against him have started lobbying, both in Delhi and the state capital.
One recollects that even the central Planning Commission had not taken the proposals of the Uttarakhand government for the restoration and rehabilitation works of the flood hit areas.
Though in principle the centre agreed to a restoration programme of about Rs 15000 crores, but so low is the credibility of the state government and its machinery that there were doubts in the minds of the centre that the amount would be used correctly and a central team was formed to oversee the restoration works.
And it is just not the restoration works that is giving nightmares to Vijay Bahuguna. The state government employees are up in arms against the chief minister and have announced to go on an indefinite strike from Oct 16, in support of their various demands, including anomalies in salaries. As a prelude they will be going on a a token relay strike from Oct 7 to Oct 11, to make the government realize that they mean business this time.
This is going to further hamper the working of the government, which already requires much to be done. A glaring example is that the forms for ration cards under the Food for All scheme finished two days before the last date for submitting the forms.
There were complaints galore from residents of various localities in the state capital that they had been running from pillar to post, but did not get a form, which had been given to friends and relatives and were nope being sold under the table at exorbitant prices.