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Friday, September 24, 2021

Pushkar Singh Dhami: ‘Kanwar Yatra different… we wanted Char Dham with Covid guidelines’

We are calculating the losses incurred due to the pandemic. We are trying to utilise our resources... because the pandemic affected entire world and Uttarakhand as well. We have moved SLP [special leave petition] in the Supreme Court on the Char Dham Yatra.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun |
Updated: August 5, 2021 6:55:27 am
Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami speaks to Lalmani Verma about his government’s work and next year’s poll challenge. Excerpts from the interview:

You have been made the face of the government a few months before elections. What challenges do you see in achieving the BJP’s target of 60-plus seats in 2022?

Projects which are already going on, only these projects will be taken forward. Very good work had been done earlier. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, roads, national highways, Char Dham roads, works under Bharatmala project and railway projects up to Karnaprayag are being developed. Free ration is being provided to 80 crore people. The state government has launched several schemes as well.

The pandemic affected Uttarakhand’s economy and its backbone, tourism. Any estimate on the loss of revenue? What are the avenues you are looking at to revive the state economy?

We are calculating the losses incurred due to the pandemic. We are trying to utilise our resources… because the pandemic affected entire world and Uttarakhand as well. We have moved SLP [special leave petition] in the Supreme Court on the Char Dham Yatra.

The government suspended Kanwar Yatra citing Covid. Do you think it is safe to allow Char Dham Yatra?

There is a big difference between the two yatras. In Kanwar Yatra, people gather at one place. More than 3 crore people gather in Haridwar. But in Char Dham Yatra…[it is not the same]. We wanted to run it in a small scale with RT-PCR reports [of devotees], on the basis of capacity of hotels and tourist houses and following the Covid-19 guidelines.

What went wrong in the regimes of Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat which led them to resign? Will you correct those mistakes?

Sometimes situations arise… no mistake was done. Both the Chief Ministers did very good work.

One big reason, party workers say, for removing Trivendra Rawat was centralisation of power, lack of communication with MLAs and party workers, and dominance of bureaucracy. How will you adress this?

My government is doing very well. Efficient and experienced officers have joined. S S Sandhu has been appointed new Chief Secretary. The machinery is working and we have no problem. Bureaucracy and public representatives, all are working together to make Uttarakhand a better state. No complaints have come and work has been put on fast track. No one is above rules and laws.

Uttarakhand’s political record shows no government repeats, and a change of face ahead of polls does not help parties. How will you break this trend?

We are doing our work. Then public has to decide the rest.

Congress has virtually made it clear that Harish Rawat will lead the party in the polls. Is this a challenge for you?

Opposition is everywhere. But challenge for me this time is development of Uttarakhand. To complete the schemes and projects already started… Others [parties] are doing their work on the agenda of election but we are working on a different agenda.

AAP triggered a fresh debate by promising free electricity up to 300 units and waiver of bills. Harish Rawat promised 200 units free power. Your Power Minister, Harak Singh Rawat, announced free 100 units. Do you approve the politics of freebies?

We want all-round development of Uttarakhand in a true sense. I am for development. Some people only have agenda of elections. They are working on the agenda of elections. My government will explore the best options available.

Are you sure that you will be CM face after elections too if BJP wins?

Our party functions in a democratic manner. Had I ever thought I will become the CM or the party will assign me this job? Whatever work the party assigns, we do that. The individual is not important here. At present, I am doing the job the party assigned to me. Neither am I worried about the future nor regret the past.

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