Bahuguna’s wit Vs Rawat’s writ
Uttrakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna may be in the thick of controversies but he has certainly not lost his wit, something that he looks to have inherited from his late father HN Bahuguna.
I remember meeting him once at the beginning of my career. He had played on the word ‘Iron’.
“Are you an iron girl; don’t look like one.”
Bombarded by unwarranted comments by an irrepressible Harish Rawat, who has not as yet laid to rest the banner of revolt against Bahuguna, the latter has opted for either reconciliation or silence.
Perhaps Bahuguna has left the task of combating Rawat to senior Congress leader Satpal Maharaj.
Rawat has been livid ever since party high command preferred Bahuguna over him for the CM’s post and has kept upping the ante.
However, what surprises all is the silence of the high command even after he threw a direct challenge. Perhaps the Congress leadership doesn’t want to rock the Uttarakhand boat. Rawat has support of couple of MLAs who can be ready to even risk their membership.
Uttarakhand is the only state after Manipur where Congress could form the government after recent elections in five states. Short of requisite strength, it had to borrow support of Independents and BSP legislators.
But going is getting tougher for Bahuguna in the hill state, where development is major concern.
With no semblance of political stability, a big question mark hangs over his future.
The new CM, however, is taking things in his stride. Sometimes his feelings get reflected in his impromptu fun-filled statements.
In an informal meeting at his sprawling bungalow in Doon, Bahuguna said, “My focus is on governance.”
On Rawat’s statements like ” Whosoever be the chief minister, it is my writ that would run large in the state”, Bahuguna said the party high command was there to take note. “I am focusing on work. There are others to take care of that.”
Earlier at a public meeting he had said that he also needed to pick up some fighting skills to trounce his opponent. ”
But I don’t want to use my legs and hands, only mental skills” Bahuguna had said.
His trusted lieutenants insist that Bahuguna is not bothered how long he would remain the chief minister. It’s quality not quantity, they say.
Bahuguna has shifted to the CM’s bungalow, considered jinxed by many, without any fear of losing the chair. It is generally believed that CM’s do not last long after occupying the house. It happened with Romesh Pokhriyal who lost the chair four months after moving in. The bungalow is big enough to accommodate half a dozen ministers, has beautiful lawns, swimming pool and a billiard room.
Talking about the ongoing save Ganga movement and threat to hydro power projects, Bahuguna said on a lighter note, “Uttarakhand would become a saint state instead of dev bhumi with Swamy Vijayanand leading bhajans and not development of the state.”
The state government had suspended work on two hydro-electric projects -Pala Maneri(480 MW) and Bhaironghat ( 381MW) on the Ganga –in 2008 after investing Rs 200 crore under pressure from saints and environmentalist, who had cited two reasons – they will disturb the eco system and hurt religious sentiments. NTPC had also stopped work on Lohari Nopala (500MW).
Bahuguna plans to visit Himachal Pradesh to resolve some power projects related issues. Earlier, he had taken the initiative to meet UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to settle pending issues. The work on Haridwar highway, it is claimed , has picked up since.
Interestingly, Bahuguna has already visited Haridwar, Rawat’s stronghold and plans to visit it again shortly. The Congress had lost eight of 11 seats here.
Bahuguna has reasons to go slow on reshuffling of the bureaucracy. However, he said he had told them to match his pace.
“How can they continue to remain neutral when I am running in third gear,” Bahuguna said.
According to him, his government priorities would eventually improve the financial health of the state.
“How can there be development without funds,” he said.
Bahuguna, who right now is an MP, did not mention about his plans on winning an assembly seat within six months in an atmosphere of political uncertainty.
He may believe silence is golden, many of his ministers think otherwise. They too are watching which way the wind would blow. As it is, Rawat is not the only claimant, there are half a dozen waiting in the queue.