INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
—Major General (retd) BC Khanduri
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Major General (retd) Shri Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri is confident of retaining power in the State. Banking upon the good governance that the BJP has provided in the State during its tenure of five years and also the recent decision of creating strong Lokayukta in the State to eradicate corruption, Shri Khanduri said the BJP worked for fulfilling the dreams of those people who fought for a separate State. Senior Correspondent of Organiser Pramod Kumar spoke to him in New Delhi to know his preparations for the coming Assembly polls. Excerpts:
What are the issues on which you will seek votes in the forthcoming Assembly polls?
The main issue is good governance and developing Uttarakhand in a manner for which the people had fought for. Another issue is our strong will to eradicate corruption and to ensure development of the natural resources in a manner that we can satisfy the developmental needs of the people. There is one more issue which has to be understood by people before making the choice in the election is how the parties functioned when they were in power. During the last 11 years both the BJP and Congress got almost equal opportunity to rule. We want people to assess which party or people are better for Uttarakhand.
Out of the last 64 years, the Congress ruled the country for 54 years. For first 15 years it did not have even any Opposition. They could have done what they wanted to do. But the condition of the country is before everyone. We will tell people to compare those 54 years of the Congress rule with the five years of NDA government. Despite the coalition of over 20 parties Atalji proved how inclusive growth can be done in the country. Despite the Kargil War, there was no price rise as it is today. The development in other sectors including telecommunications, petroleum, foodgrains, interlinking of rivers, welfare of troops, etc. was also remarkable. What I want to say is that the BJP’s philosophy of governance does not change after coming to power. On the other hand the Congress leaders amassed only money.
Since corruption is deep rooted in the system, how will you eradicate it?
A good beginning has been made in this regard by clearing way for the constitution of a strong Lokayukta in the State. It will prove to be a milestone in the fight against corruption and providing a transparent government. Chief Minister has also been brought under it. Uttarakhand is the first State in the country where there is separate department for eradication of corruption. Chief Minister, Ministers and officers have already declared their assets.
Can you claim that the fruits of power have successfully been taken to the last person living in remote areas of the State?
I cannot claim it hundred per cent. But we made sincere efforts and there is lot to be done. We have honestly tried to improve the communication, infrastructure, road, education, health, etc. We concentrated on the welfare of all people not a particular section. Industrial activities have been increased. There are activities for the welfare of youth, women, ex-soldiers, paramilitary forces, etc. We are taking care of all sections. A strong foundation has been laid and in the next couple of years the results will be visible.
Can you claim that all the promises made in the previous manifesto have been fulfilled?
No, I do not claim that also. Certain things have not been done due to certain reasons. There are some promises which cannot be fulfilled without the cooperation of Centre and what has been the attitude of the Centre is known to all.
Will all the sitting MLAs get ticket again?
That I could not decide. We have already made our recommendations and now the Parliamentary Board of the party has to take this decision. But this is sure that we do not want to take risk on any seat.
Former CM Dr Nishank had announced the creation of certain new districts. How much time will it require to materialise the announcement?
It will take some more time. The Election Commission has said that it would not be able to conduct elections as per the proposed districts. When any district is bifurcated, the Commission has to function as per the earlier conclusions. For administrative purposes, the work will begin shortly.
Congress has alleged that if Dr Nishank was not corrupt, why was he removed?
Change of guard in Uttarakhand is the internal matter of BJP. The party high command took this decision after thorough considerations. It is part of the party’s strategy to contest elections. The central leadership has a strategy and they have done it under that strategy only.
The performance of the party in previous elections, including the Lok Sabha elections, was not encouraging. Now, your friend Shri TPS Rawat is also not with the BJP. How can you claim that the party is in very sound position?
This statement is not fully correct. The BJP did not fare well only in the Lok Sabha elections in 2009. It won all the elections beginning from byelections, local bodies from Panchayats to District level, cooperative, etc. In the cooperative, we had zero presence, but now we are in majority. Similarly, in Panchayats we are in majority. Then we won all by-elections for Assembly
What about Shri TPS Rawat?
He is free to go anywhere. How can I force anyone to join a particular party? That was his own decision. If he again joins hands with us, we will definitely welcome him.
Since all the Lok Sabha seats in the State are represented by Congress, what has been their attitude towards the State government?
The question of cooperation arises only when somebody contributes something. They rather created repeated troubles for us. When the industrial package was withdrawn by the Centre all the Congress MPs remained silent. Just recently, the Centre stopped giving 12 per cent additional electricity being produced by the Tehri Dam to the State. No Congress Member ever raised a voice against it. What I want to say is that even the justified demands of the State have not been met by the Centre.
When the Central government laid foundation stone for a rail project in Uttarakhand the State government was not invited. Why?
It is very childish way of doing things. Everybody knows that the railway is constructed by the Central government. It is a very minor activity and they must not have ignored the State government.
Since Uttarakhand shares border with China, and keeping in view the Chinese activities on the border, are you satisfied with the security there?
The security scenario at the border is not good. China has been repeatedly making its presence felt aggressively. It is creating troubles all over from Ladakh to North-East and even in Uttarakhand. Therefore, it is a matter of concern. The Central government must take appropriate and timely steps to safeguard Indian interests.
Can you ensure a united fight on the part of BJP in the coming elections?
We all work together in the party and unitedly we will retain the power in the State. All our units from central to the village level work in complete coordination. There is no question of lack of unity.
The issue of permanent State capital is unresolved for the last 11 years. Why?
Dixit Committee has given its recommendations. The State Assembly has constituted a committee to examine those recommendations. As soon as the report of that committee comes, a final decision will be taken in this regard.
Will the BJP go alone in Uttarakhand or will it have an alliance with the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD), which also shared power with it?
It will be decided by the party at both the State and national level. It is the issue which has to be decided by both the parties. The UKD is now in two factions. What will happen to their own factions is also not yet clear.
The issue of arresting free flow of the Ganga has been agitating people for some time. Can you assure that free flow of the River will not be arrested in future?
In 2008, I had made a policy for smaller hydro power projects of 25 MW. This was a step to ensure free flow of the River Ganga. There is no question of arresting the free flow of the river.
What is your mantra for party workers in the State?
The basic motivation is that Uttarakhand was created by the sacrifices of people under the leadership of BJP. It was the BJP which fought for the creation of a separate State of Uttarakhand. Some of our party workers dedicated their entire life to this mission. Therefore, it is responsibility of the BJP to see that Uttarakhand becomes a flourishing and well developed State and that too according to the age old culture and samskars of this devbhoomi. We feel it is the responsibility of BJP and not the Congress to develop the State into an ideal State. This is also a fact that good governance can be given only by the BJP. Therefore, we all have to work hard to bring the party back to power so that the State can be developed further as per the imaginations and sacrifices of the people.