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Commentary: Lt General to the BJP’s rescue?

Interesting and compelling commentary. Talks about the embarrassing and comical upper caste and regional rivalries that have contributed to what Uttarakhand is today, a playground for egos and corrupt politics

Aditi Phadnis / Business Standard
New Delhi September 17, 2011, 0:56 IST

Lt Gen B C Khanduri might not know that much about politics, but he does know his real job: building roads (he’s a sapper). Impressed by his performance as Union minister for surface transport through the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government – where he built his career on building road and built so many of them that the Golden Quadrilateral became the centrepiece of that government’s achievements – the BJP thought he would be the best candidate for chief minister of Uttarakhand. Accordingly, he was dispatched to the state as CM in 2007.

When he went to the state, he vowed to shake things up. “I am going to give the bureaucracy two weeks. If they can’t sort themselves out in two weeks, they will be sacked,” he said, days after he took over.

That was the least of his problems.

Like the rest of India, the regional and caste divide dominate the politics of Uttarakhand. The state knows only two regions – Garhwal and Kumaon – and the rivalry between them is intense to the point of being comical. The power elite is either Brahmin or Thakur and this division is quite deep too. [more]