Fourteen years after Uttarakhand won statehood, the nerve centre of the movement finally hosted an assembly session Monday — inside a tent. The three-day session began in Gairsain, frequently pushed as the future capital of the state and already chosen as the site for a second assembly building.
Erected on the Government Inter College grounds, the large tent, surrounding structures and the premises have been named after prominent figures. The tent, Vidhan Sabha Mandap, is named after Indramani Badoni who had headed the agitation in the early 1990s, Vidhan Sabha Parisar or premises after freedom fighter Virchandra Garhwali, and the secretraiat campus after communist leader P C Joshi.
Signs hang outside the makeshift chambers of the speaker, the deputy speaker, the CM, the leader of the opposition and the chief secretary, as well as a small lobby where MLAs rest.
All top officials from Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar to DGP B S Sidhu are camping in the setup, guarded by the police. The MLAs are staying in tents erected a few kilometres from the makeshift assembly. Chief Minister Harish Rawat was with them in the bus that took them to the GIC grounds for the historic session.
At the entrance, each of them was welcomed with a shawl and a cap by deputy speaker Ansuiya Prasad Maikhuri, who is also the local MLA.
Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal opened the proceedings, Leader of the Opposition Ajay Bhatt raised the issue of alleged mismanagement in handling the aftermath of last year’s clouburst, and the government tabled five bills. On Tuesday, the government will table a supplementary budget.
The three-day session is set to revive the old demand for Gairsain as capital. The demand is an emotional one for residents, particularly those who live in the hilly parts. Gairsain is located at the junction of the state’s two regions, Garhwal and Kumayun.
“The government must clear its stand on the future status of Gairsain — either as temporary capital or permanent capital,” Bhatt said.