UKD issues being hijacked by Congress in Uttarakhand

Dehradun: The populist issues that were raked up by the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) to popularize public opinion and arouse the sentiments of the masses at the groundroot level ror the creation of this small mountain state way back in the mid and late 1990s, are surfacing yet again. The only difference is that the state Congress is now using those very issues to get the popular support of the aam aadmi.

UKD issues being hijacked by Congress in Uttarakhand

With the popularity and public response to the UKD at an all time low and the party not finding itself in a position to make any political headway in the present political situation, the state Congress has found it convenient to take its very issues to the masses and get popularity. The Congress leaders hope that by raking up these issues, it will be able to gtet the better of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2017 assembly elections in the state.

Sadly the UKD after its massive response to the Uttarakhand agitation and the manner in which it was able to get the rank and file of laymen across the state to come forward and support it on its call of statehood, has been on the decline eversince. One the main reasons for it gradual fading away into near oblivion is the fact that it has not been able to get the right leadership which take the party forward in a positive manner.

The personal ambitions of individual leaders in the party, most of whom do not really have any mass support or holding in the state have come to the helm of the party. But once at the helm they have rather than taking the rank and file of the party along and raising issues of mass appeal, have been only trying to fulfill their personal ambitions.
The first issue that the Congress has hijacked from the UKD is that of making Gairsain the state capital. Though it has in a calculated mive refrained from saying openly that Gairsain should be made the state capital but it has taken certain steps leading to speculations that Gairsain in the coming days could be made the state capital.

Former Congress chief minister Vijay Bahuguna gave a nod for the construction of a vidhan sabha building at Gairsain, along with residential quarters for the staff and legislators. This was done despite the fact that a vidhan sabha building and houses for the staff and legislators is also being constructed in the Raipur area of Dehra Dun.

Now, chief minister Harish Rawat has announced that a cabinet meeting will be held at Gairsain in September, despite the fact that it does not have the required infrastructure for such a meeting. Tents will be put in to house the staff and the legislators, most of who will not stay there overnight in any case, at a huge cost to the state exchequer, but importantly it will send the message that the Congress is giving due importance to Gairsain.

And to make sure that the masses take the bait hook, line and sinker, the state Congress has also decided to hold the next convention of the Pradesh Congress Committee at Gairsain just before the cabinet meeting. This will indicate that not only the Congress government in the state but also the party leadership is keen on giving due importance to Gairsain.

Then state Congress president, Kishore Upadhyaya has been raking the issue of delimitation of assembly segments in the state, which too the UKD had taken up during its struggle for statehood. Another issue of the UKD that has been hijacked is the formation of new districts in the state and of late the decision to rename the Tehri Dam lake as the Suman Sarovar is another UKD issue.

It may be recalled that UKD legislator in 2004 had raised the issue of renaming the Tehri Dam lake after Shridev Suman in the state vidhan sabha. It is perhaps because of this that the UKD feels that its issues have been hijacked and there is urgent need that this must be brought to the notice of the masses. But the important issue is whether the badly divided UKD be able to carry the issue to the masses at the appropriate level.

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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