Backstabbing, bane of Uttarakhand Chief Ministers

Dehra Dun : Now that it is officially confirmed that the Congress high command has decided to replace Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and it is only a matter of time that his successor will be named.

This small hill state will have the dubious distinction of having eight chief ministers ever since it was formed just about 13 years back.

Uttarakhand also goes by the pseudonym ‘Abode of the Gods’ and this is perhaps why every chief minister who has been at the helm in the state has left everything except corruption, nepotism and favouritism to the Gods.

It is another matter that going by average the chief minister did not even have 18 months to put their plans for the state into perspective, but the pertinent question is that they did have any, or they just left the dreams and hopes of the aam aadmi to the God.Bhauguana_door

The only exception to this analogy of chief ministers is veteran Congress leader Narain Dutt Tewari, who completed his full term of five years in office.

Tewari was made chief minister when the Congres first came to power in this small hill state in 2002. But he like all chief ministers of Uttarakhand had to face the wrath of his own partymen, who started burning his effigies to show their grudge at his appointment to the post.

Though he completed his five years in office, but there were numerous occasions when there were reports that he was likely to be replaced. To add to the rumours, Tewari himself showed his displeasure at being made the chief minister of the smallest state, though he nursed the desire of being the prime minister of the country, and would time and again give statements that he was not in the mood of continuing as chief minister which would keep his detractors silent for some time.

It has been an irony of this small hill state that there have been none like Virbhadra Singh or Yahswant Parmar of the adjoining hill state of Himachal Pradesh to put the state on the track to development. While Parmar was instrumental in laying a strong foundation for Himachal Pradesh and laying out the strategy for a bright future, Virbhadra has ensured that he is the undisputed leader of the masses and Congress.

In sharp contrast there has been no leader with either the vision or plans for development of Uttarakhand, the result of which has been that rather than going on the road of development and prosperity, it has only gone down the gutter.

Facts and figures narrate the downslide that this small hill state has taken ever since its formation, which has forced not only the masses, but even the speaker of the vidhan sabha, G S Kunjwal to say that the region was better off as a part of the sprawling Uttar Pradesh than it is as a state.

The reason for there being eight chief ministers in 13 years is not that the people want it, but it is more because of the fact that partymen are keen to pull the rug from under the feet of the chief ministers. Personal aspirations of the leaders of both the Congress and the BJP to become the chief minister so that they and their cronies can make hay while the sun shines is the major reason why chief ministers have had to go after short tenures.

If one delves into the past 13 years regardless of there being either a BJP pr Congress government, it will be seen that the efforts to remove the chief minister start on day one of taking the oath. Even as praises are showered on the chief minister back stabbing goes on full swing.

The result is that rather than working in the interest of the state and its people, the chief minister is busy trying to save his chair and all efforts are made to appease the party high command, rather than take decisions that could make the difference at the ground level.

But more importantly what it has done is given a free hand to the bureaucracy to do things the way they want to. The babudom which was under cloud even in its home state before opting for Uttarakhand when this state was formed made the most of a weak legislature as the chief minister and his team of ministers were busy protecting themselves, rather than asking the executive to look into the interests of the state.

What else can explain the fact, that senior babus who have been transferred by the chief minister have refused to accept the orders and join at their place of posting forcing the chief minister to cancel the orders. And this has not been an isolated case, there are numerous examples of such orders being given the shoulder.

Vijay Bahuguna, son of the illustrious Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, had brought hope to the people, but then he also failed to deliver. While there are numerous stories doing the rounds in the corridors of power, but it can be said of him that he tried to deliver but his partymen like in the case of other chief ministers, put hurdles in his way.

But his greatest undoing was the ship shoddy manner in which the relief and rehabilitation exercise was undertaken post the Uttarakhand tragedy and the corruption that is alleged to have taken place in those measures.

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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2 Comments

  1. says: Lt Gen Dr Mohan Bhandari

    Bang On !
    Take out NDT’s 5 out of 13 years.8 when divided by 7 gives just above 1 year of their tenure each .This is the political health of Dev Bhumi , Veer Bhumi & Kala Bhumi.What development of the Hill State can be expected under such uncertain & volatile political environment ?
    As I hear the noises of crackers outside,I also hear distant voices of dissent & bickering simmering in the corridors of power in Doon.
    Both Parties are presently on the razor’s edge with an extremely delicate balance.One does not know as to what the ‘King Makers’ are up to now ?Situation can be really critical pretty soon !!

  2. says: Devinder K. Sharma

    I feel the people of Uttarakhand have been cheated by the politicians at the highest levels. When this fledgling hill state was under evolution, I had the opportunity of interacting with the senior bureaucrats and some of the other thinkers and all were unanimous in their understanding of a great future for the new state. Unlike Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand did not have to experiment with options of governance or development models because Himachal Pradesh had been the guinea pig for this experimentation. Everything is not lost right away and there is still time for redeeming what has been lost. Will the politicians, bureaucrats and people at large take up the challenge and start the process of building a robust Uttarakhand for which people have gone through bitter agitations. All who matter need to think and see beyond their noses to restore the pride of the people of Uttarakhand.

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