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Cong. hopeful of regaining base in Uttarakhand

By Our Staff Reporter (The Hindu)
Dehra Dun, July 21, 1997

Congress (I) leaders are expressing high hopes of rejuvenating their party in Uttarakhand region after their colleagues table a private Bill in Parliament regarding the formation of the hill State on July 25. This will be followed by a political resolution on Uttarakhand at the Congress convention to be held in Calcutta from August 8, senior party functionaries here said.

The Congressmen admit that the party that reigned supreme in the region lost all its support over the past few years for not favouring the Uttarakhand sentiment which was more of a socio – economic issue than a political plank for the local people.

The massive Uttarakhand agitation of 1994 and 1995 saw most politicians sidetracked as people came out staging rallies, dharnas, indefinite fasts, road blockades and bandhs in the form of local action groups. Fearing social boycott, most politicians joined these local action groups as ordinary workers. These local action groups were however “loosely” controlled by the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD)-dominated Uttarakhand Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti (USSS). The USSS which had given an election boycott call lost all control over the local action groups as its leaders prepared to contest Assembly elections in 1996. Soon a large number of local action group leaders entered the fray. All including the USSS leaders lost their security deposits. The voters returned 17 BJP men out of the 19 Assembly constituencies in the region.

The people in general however, ask Congress leaders as to why their party when in power at the Centre did not declare the creation of Uttarakhand even after the Mulayam Singh and Kalyan Singh governments passed resolutions in its favour and forwarded the matter to Delhi.

It is relevant to mention here that most influential Congressmen like Mr Nav Prabhat, MLC, have joined the BSP of late.

The BJP, concerned over the spreading tentacles of the BSP in the region, seems to be trying it’s best to keep the hill State issue live through slogans that it would announce the new State immediately on coming to power at the Centre.

General feeling is that the BJP wants to use the hill State sentiments just like it used the Ayodhya temple issue to corner power in Uttar Pradesh. This feeling among the masses might see a decline in the BJP seats in the Assembly during the next elections, feel political observers.

Mr Indramani Badoni, ex-MLA and patron of the UKD and USSS whose fast at Pauri sparked off the 1994 agitation has demanded inclusion of Hardwar in Uttarakhand as it was the gateway to the higher Himalayan shrines.