Nearly one-and-a-half months after Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh declared Dharamshala – an upcoming ‘smart city’ of Himachal Pradesh as ‘second capital,’ the state cabinet today put its seal on the move. The move came ahead of the presentation of the state’s finance budget on March 10.
The step assumes significance as the state goes to polls later this year. The incumbent Congress was elected in 2012 after a close election against the BJP.
The chief minister had been under pressure from MLAs and ministers from Kangra to get a notification issued for formalising the move on the second capital for which the approval of the cabinet was a pre-requisite.
The ‘second capital’ will not be on the lines of Jammu and Kashmir which follows a Dardar practice of complete shifting of state secretariat to Jammu for six months during the winters and later to Kashmir during the summers.
Moreover to avoid burden on the state exchequer, the government has decided to hand-over existing mini-secretariat building at Dharamshala to General Administrative department (GAD). The rooms will be refurnished and made fully functional as official accommodations beside providing vehicles to the staff camping there. The ministers and government officers will be functioning from the mini-Secretariat to make themselves available to the public. Till now, the mini-Secretariat was under the control of Deputy Commissioner, Kangra but there was hardly any minister including those hailing from Kangra frequently sitting there.
“The decision taken by the cabinet on Dharamshala is historic and will immensely benefit the people of the lower Himachal Pradesh,” said Sudhir Sharma who was primarily instrumental in the decision. Earlier till now, the Vidhan Sabha used to hold its winter session at Dharamshala, a move started by Virbhadra Singh during his previous term. He had also started ‘winter sojourn’ – a practice when the Chief Minister camps at Dharamshala for nearly a month.
Transport minister GS Bali has also hailed the cabinet decision. “I am happy that Chief minister has ended the suspense being created by the opposition about capital being a political stunt,” he said.
Dharamshala is a foothill town of McLeodgang, the seat of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and headquaters of the central Tibetan administration. HPCA’s cricket stadium is also an attraction at Dharamshala besides its majestic snow-covered Dhauladhar ranges.