The political scene in the new state

— Raja Bahuguna

On November 9, 2000, the BJP came to power under the leadership of Nityanand Swamy in the newly born state of Uttaranchal. On this day, the people of Uttarakhand rejected BJP’s call to celebrate Diwale in the wake of formation of the new state. Reason was that the people of Uttarakhand were made alienated from their own resources through the UP Reorganisation Bill 2000 in the process of formation of the new state. People have understood the BJP’s ploy of giving Uttarakhand a colony-like status vis-a-vis the UP govt. Hence they rejected the ‘Diwali celebration’ call. Now people are witnessing, in the name of establishing the temporary capital in Dehradun, crores of rupees being wasted by the corrupt bureaucrat-politician nexus.

Now, even after completion of 7 months of new state’s govt., Chief Minister Nityanand Swamy’s status remains a junior partner of UP Chief Minister Rajnath Singh. Swamy could not dare to utter a word to Rajnath Singh be it a matter of distribution of assets or the question of punishing guilty officials responsible for the gory incident of Muzaffarnagar. It seems that things have come to a standstill. Rajnath Singh refused to give CBI permission to register a case against Anant Kumar Singh, presently his Principle Secretary and was DM of Muzaffarnagar when the Muzaffarnagar incident took place in October’94. But Nityanand Swamy is tight-lipped on this question while many senior leaders of BJP, including Murali Manohar Joshi, shed crocodile tears and toured whole of Uttarakhand with pots containing urns of martyrs of that incident.

After taking oath as Chief Minister, Nityanand Swamy’s first public declaration was to make Uttarakhand liquor- and Mafia-free after march 2001, but number of liquor shops have nearly doubled and Mafia nexus has grown stronger and more powerful. Even then the Chief Minister is not ashamed of his deeds when he now says that he can make Uttarakhand liquor-free only if he is made a dictator. This attitude of the CM towards a very common and popular demand of nearly the entire women population of this hill region clearly shows he is blatantly anti-women and is in total control of the mafia.

The number of crimes has increased in the new state and criminals are roaming scot-free. The number of incidents of police repression of weaker sections of society have also increased on the other hand. Communal and reactionary organisations have tried to create communal tension during last couple of months. In Ramnagar town of Nainital district, the police killed a youth in custody. As that youth belonged to Muslim minority community hundreds of people from that community immediately gheraoed the police station in protest. Police and local leaders of Vyapar Mandal, in desperation, tried to communalise the issue. This incident created tension in the town to some extent but prompt intervention of progressive people of both communities diffused the tension and under public pressure the district Administration was forced to register a case against accused police personnel and arrest them. Chief Minister and many Ministers of his govt. visited town during that period but did not utter even a single word against the custodial death of Zakir and none visited his family to console them. On the contrary, an FIR has been registered against 2500 protesting people by SI OP Mishra who himself was primarily responsible for flaring up communal tension along with BJP and Vyapar Mandal leaders.

No signs of development are seen after the formation of the new state. According special state status to Uttaranchal by the centre has been projected by Chief Minister as an achievement but without a vision for development and lack of spirit and planning on the part of state Govt., centre’s money for special status state will only go to the pockets of corrupt politician-bureaucrat-mafia nexus and it will further increase the vows of the already suffering people. This government promised to provide water, education and health to each and every household but has ended up in providing liquor and wine to everyone. Thousands of vacancies are there for teachers’ posts in Uttaralkhand but instead of giving trained unemployed youth regular employment, the govt. is appointing teachers on contract basis. Employment in army is said to be the biggest industry for youth of Uttartakhand but now situation has aggravated to such an extent that for 300-400 vacancies in army 5,000-10,000 youth gather at recruitment camps. This situation generally results in mayhem and lathi-charge in the name of maintaining discipline. 

In an interesting development, the UP chief Minister has refused to call back 4500 govt. employees of Uttar Pradesh who have opted for the UP cadre after formation of the new state as per govt. regulations. Now new state’s govt. has to arrange for the salaries of those employees from its already depleted resources and this has also diminished the already scarce employment opportunities in the new state.

After completion of 100 days in office, the Swamy govt. through costly full-page ads declared that it has finalised a comprehensive development strategy by sighing MOU with UNDP. What a joke? This govt.’s development strategy completely banks upon meagre aid from the UNDP and imperialist agencies like World Bank. It is only deceiving people. The reality is that the Swamy govt. is making Uttarakhand a hostage to the World Bank through long-term agreements. In the name of ‘Joint Forest Management’ and ‘Swajal’ this game has already started.

The Uttarakhand govt. has to arrange for its water resources and hydroelectric power projects’ maintenance and salaries of their employees. But Uttar Pradesh’s monopoly will remain on production. The BJP has written a new history by depriving new state from making its own land ceiling act which is totally unconstitutional.

Uttarakhand’s people neither got their long-aspired “Uttarakhand” state nor a capital of their choice, they have only been provided a sign board of ‘Uttaranchal’. After long struggles and sacrifices, the BJP govt. was forced to give a new state under people’s pressure but it strangulated people’s aspirations in the process. Therefore, the people’s movements are continuing even after the formation of the new state. Students, workers, peasants, women, all are struggling. They are preparing to intensify their efforts to get rid of the anti-people govt. sitting in Dehradun. At the moment, people’s first demand now is to hold assembly elections along with UP elections. This requires the immediate start and speedy completion of the delimitation process of constituencies but the BJP has turned deaf ears to this demand. The BJP leaders’ statements indicate its desire to prolong and slow-down delimitation process so that it can run unelected interim govt. for as long a time as possible. But, recently, the CEC Lyngdoh has announced that elections in Uttarakhand would be held along with UP elections. Since panchayat elections in Uttarakhand are due in October, this has warmed up political activities.

To stabilise his position, the CM, Swamy has given ministerial status to all MLAs of his party and highest positions in important committees to nearly all opposition MLAs. This has made already the weak opposition in the interim govt. nearly dead.

The Congress is projecting itself as the BJP’s alternative in Uttarakhand’s politics while other parties like Samajwadi Party, BSP, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, Uttarakhand Janwadi Party etc. are also claiming the same. The CPI(M) has announced that it will follow Mulayam Singh’s footsteps. This is clear from Sitaram Yechury’s recent statement in Dehradun. Some efforts are also on for third or fourth front formations. We have also launched a campaign to get rid of inert and inefficient Nityanand Swamy govt. Padayatras and awakening campaigns are being launched for this purpose. This has to be transformed into a statewide campaign under the slogan, “Fight for establishing democracy, come forward to build a revolutionary left”. Our efforts will be to build a militant alternative against the Congress and the BJP around this slogan. A militant mass movement against anti-people policies of the Congress and the BJP and an effective revolutionary opposition alone can solve the challenges posed before the people of this newly formed state. This will also lead to a real third front which will be an alternative to the discredited Congress and BJP.