“My government will be run on Congress principles and not on BSP dikats,” Uttarakhand Chief Minister
tells The New Indian Express Editorial Director
during Teekhi Baat on IBN7. Excerpts:
You are the CM but also an MP. When will you become an MLA?
I have time till September 13, as per the constitutional requirement. There are many MLAs in my party who are willing to vacate their seat so that I can contest from their constituency.
You were the CM candidate. Why didn’t you contest elections?
First we had to win the polls, then as is the tradition in the Congress, whoever has the blessings of Soniaji becomes the CM.
The one who was capable of becoming CM was kept out, while others were made to contest.
Uttarkhand is still backward, but there’s so much potential in the state...
When we were part of Uttar Pradesh, the annual plan of our region was a mere `900 crore. Today it’s `7,500 crore. We can generate 27,000 MW electricity here using hydro power, our potential. Today, a mere 3,200 MW is being generated. `30,000 crore has been invested in our state. I’m making a land bank and inviting people to set up industries here, because even today our power charges are below most states, there are no law-and-order issues, and we have a lot of human resources, with 84 per cent literacy.
But it still takes too much time to drive to Dehradun.
I have met Akhileshji, and we have had talks about the land issue in connection with NH 58. The travel time will be cut down by by two hours soon.
Does political instability hurt development in small states? You have a majority of two MLAs.
No, BJP has 31 and we have 40.
In that 40, how much would you be dependent on BSP?
For people who’ve fought against communal forces, we’re the natural contact.
Who is responsible for the lack of development?
The pace of development slowed down in the past five years with BJP in power. Their second CM distributed sweets when hydroprojects were closed.
Who raised the hydro power projects issue?
There’re some swamis, some NGOs. Ganga is my mother too. Let the experts decide how the power is going to be used, but let it be generated. If in any month, water is needed badly, we’ll stop the plant. Today we have to buy electricity from other states. Look at Himachal; it’s selling power.
Have these so-called NGOs or swamis proved to a roadblock for the development of Uttarakhand?
Certainly, they do not understand the problems of the state. When they talk of environment, we respect them. But you cannot take development backward.
How is Uttarkhand’s bureaucracy?
It’s very cooperative. From the time I became the CM, I have had no issues. The bureaucracy is sharp.
What are your priorities?
My first priority is to promote tourism. I have met Subodh Kant Sahayji for a tourism masterplan of Uttarakhand. A massive adventure sports academy will be set up in Tehri.
Roads are needed; you can’t make everybody travel in aircraft.
I invite you to come and see how good the roads are.
But the BSP can deceive you any time. How much do you trust them?
I am taking their support, but they are not running the government.
Which means BSP doesn’t dictate terms.
No, never. Nor will they be able to.
But if the BSP does so?
If there is a good suggestion, we will surely listen to it, but if it is different from Congress policies and principles, then I will not compromise to save the government.
You mean to say that this is a Congress government.
Yes, this is a Congress government, and it is run on Congress principles.