Political instability and corruption continues to remain one of the core issues in Uttarakhand, which celebrates its foundation day on Tuesday. The hill state has witnessed eight chief ministers ruling the state in the past 16 years. Although Uttarakhand has registered an impressive growth in industrial development and GDP, corruption remain unchecked in the hill state.

Each government that assumes power faces some corruption charges. Even inquires/investigations are instituted, but action against the so-called-guilty has not been never taken so far. 

Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh on 9 November 2000. The regular change of head has resulted in political instability in Uttarakhand. The state has witnessed eight chief ministers assuming power. With an average of one CM every two year the frequent change of guard has hampered development in Uttarakhand. 

“Political instability was one of the major issue to affect development works in Uttarakhand," eminent historian Dr Shekhar Pathak says.

"Both the Congress and the BJP never provided their leaders the freedom to work independently. The trends of the three state assembly elections clearly indicates that the public voted against the party in power to exhibit their anger. So both the parties won the polls by default. Due to weak regional parties the national parties have established monopoly in the state,” he adds.

The change of guard exercise began immediately after the formation of the state. State’s first CM, Nityanand Swami remained in office for 11 months. Swami was replaced by Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who was in office for over three months. The Congress was voted to power in 2002 and veteran party leader ND Tiwari took charge as Uttarakhand’s third CM. 

After the BJP came to power in 2007, Major-General (Retd.) BC Khanduri became the CM and remained in office for over two years. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank too had a short stay in the CM office (over two year) and was removed due to poor public image, making ways for Khanduri to assume charge for the second time. 

Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna was crowned the seventh Uttarakhand CM in March 2012 and made a tame exit after one year and 10 months.

At present, Harish Rawat is holding the hot seat. The hill state witnessed high political drama in May this year when Rawat had to leave office after the President rule was implemented here. He resumed office for the second time after proving majority in the house. 

Although Congress leader ND Tiwari is the only CM who has completed his full five-year term, the veteran leader expressed his willingness openly half a dozen times to quit from the top post.

Besides political instability, corruptions has made deep inroads in Uttarakhand. The BJP charged the Tiwari government of involving in 56 scams during their five-year term from 2002 to 2007. After being voted to power in 2007, the BJP instituted a commission to probe the scams. Acting similar to the BJP, the Congress also charged the opposition party involved in 419 scams and also instituted a commission level inquiry. The present Harish Rawat government is under fire from the BJP for the misuse of Kedarnath disaster relief funds. 

Uttarakhand movement activist and CPI leader Samar Bhandari rues, “It is rather shameful that both the BJP and the Congress have faced serious corruption allegations in their rules. Both the parties have failed to ensure transparency in the hill state. The common public have to suffer due to prevailing culture. The Congress and the BJP are involved in open looting of natural resources in Uttarakhand.”

The Uttarakhand government is more interested in providing land to industrial units, while the rehabilitation of 400 disaster hit villages remains pending since the past 15 years. Renowned Uttarakhandi folk singer Narendra Negi says, “Every CM faced some corruption allegation.  The affidavit of political leaders, submitted for contesting elections, shows impressive growth in their income. Uttarakhand has helped in economic development of Netas, not common public.”

Some years ago, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) had conducted a survey on Uttarakhand state election. According to the ADR, “Eighty-eight per cent of the total 278 candidates, who fought in the 2012 polls, were crorepatis. In the 2007 assembly elections, only 11 per cent candidates were crorepatis.”

So, more big money political leaders are joining the race here. 

The Uttarakhand state assembly election is round the corner and even after assuming power for over four and half year the Congress has so far failed to take action in any of the accused persons of the 419 scams. 

Small state should ensure transparency. A number of scams have rocked the hill state since its inception. Different state governments set up inquiry commissions but none of the inquiry has so far reached any final stage. Does this indicate a match fixing like thing between the Congress and the BJP--Right from the recruitment of sub inspectors during the Congress rule to the allotment of hydro power projects of BJP’s Nishank government and the misuse of disaster funds by the present Rawat government. The allegation make headlines for few days before meeting a tame end. One government passes the report to another. 

Migration is another grave issue in Uttarakhand. According to the Census of India data, there are 1,065 ghost villages in the state. Even the 15,761 villages, which fall in the habitat village category, the population is slim. Rather than rehabilitating disaster-affected villages on a priority basis, the Uttarakhand government is involved in hosting wrestling fight of ex-WWE star Khali and giving disaster department’s funds to Bollywood Sufi singer Kailash Kher for making documentary films.

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