Himachal Confidential: Shadow ‘opposition’

Published:May 14, 2012 3:44 am

Shadow ‘opposition’

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal rarely had an occasion when Congress could really corner him on corruption,or on his rule of four-and-half years. However,what is worrying Dhumal is a ‘shadow’ opposition threatening to derail BJP’s ‘Mission Repeat 2012’. Senior party leader Shanta Kumar is not on his side. He wants CM to act against ‘tainted’ cabinet ministers and PSU chairmen,vice-chairmen – all Dhumal loyalists. Shanta made this point to the BJP president Nitin Gadkari virtually setting a pre-condition for his support in upcoming assembly elections.

Amartya Sen effect

Himachal has been a largely peaceful state. A few years ago,Nobel laureate Amartya Sen praised the state for posting best social indicators,especially for its high literacy and expansion of elementary education. Even Deputy Chairman of Planning commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Union minister of state (planning) Ashwani Kumar recently went on record terming Himachal as ‘best performing’ state. Now Amartya Sen has again praised the state at a function in Kolkata. Chief secretary Sudripta Roy quoted the Noble laureate as saying “I wish West Bengal becomes like Himachal Pradesh – a best state of the country.”

Green alarms

Environmental activists in Himachal Pradesh are in an upbeat mood after High Court’s green bench imposed Rs 100-cr penalty on the Jaiparkash Associates Limited (JAL) – a firm which holds major stakes in the hydro-power and cement projects. The verdict is a strong reflection on state government allowing corporate giants to commit blatant violations of the environmental norms and land laws. Even Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has been caught on a wrong foot for granting sanction to thermal plant ignoring public protests. Earlier also the High Court had scrapped a cement plant while national environment appellate Authority – now called National Green Tribunal – quashed environment clearance for another cement plant at Karsog (Mandi).The tribunal has put on hold multi-crore Renuke Dam project on hold fearing threat to environment.

All Bengalis leftists

Chief Secretary Sudripta Roy’s Bengal connections are well known within the bureaucratic circles. Yet,the officer loves to display his his love for Himachal Pradesh where he came 34 years ago as a young IAS probationer and served districts like Hamirpur,Kangra and Mandi. Roy has always been a humble ‘Bengali babu’ fine-tuned by brilliance and smiles. An inquisitive media friend when probed him on his ideological leaning,Roy gave an impromptu reply,“All Bengalis are leftists.”

Eating the words

A BJP leader from Kangra Kirpal Parmar. known for his loyalties to Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal,spoke tough against suspended MP Rajan Sushant. He levelled allegations of disproportionate assets,poor track record of discipline,a Congress agent and even highlighted his aborted attempt to topple the BJP government. In a fit of anger,Parmar did not even spare senior party leader Shanta Kumar. However,better sense prevailed and he later requested the media not publish his comments.

Successors in line

Early next month,when S S Parmar retires as member of State Information Commission (SIC),the government may have a wide choice to fill in the slot. Beside the name of Director General of Police DS Manhas being aired,several bureaucrats and other officers,retired or set to retire in a month’s time,have thrown their hat in the ring. It’s up to Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Chief Secretary Sudripta Roy to begin the screening.

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