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"Our report card is good, and we will do well in Uttarakhand" (Interview with B.C. Khanduri)

"Our report card is good, and we will do well in Uttarakhand" (Interview with B.C. Khanduri)

Author:
Publication: The Hindu
Date: May 10, 2009
URL: http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/10/stories/2009051055511300.htm

The BSP is not a threat; our vote share has been increasing

In the Assembly elections in Uttarakhand two years ago, the Bharatiya Janata Party projected former Union Minister and then Garhwal (Pauri) MP B.C. Khanduri as the party's Chief Ministerial candidate. The strategy paid off for the BJP, with the party wresting power from the Congress.

Mr. Khanduri is once again going back to the people of the hill State seeking votes for his party and its Prime Ministerial candidate L.K. Advani on two main poll planks - the performance of his government and the failures of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre. This election could prove to be the acid test for the former Army General. He spoke to Sandeep Joshi.

Q.: How will the BJP perform in Uttarakhand?
A.: We again hope to do well in the State where people are happy over the performance of the BJP government. Our report card has been good and we have delivered in all sectors, particularly in the field of employment generation, health, infrastructure development and implementation of social programmes. On the other hand, there is a strong feeling of disenchantment towards the Congress-led UPA government.

Q.: What are the main poll issues in the State?
A.: Both national and State issues are equally important. Besides highlighting the failures of the UPA government, we are also telling people about the discrimination of the State by the Centre. For instance, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government announced an industrial package for Uttarakhand that was valid till 2013. But after the Congress was voted out of power in the State, the Centre curtailed it to 2010. Similarly, the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) project at Rishikesh approved by the NDA government has been delayed. Our rations and LPG quotas from the Centre have also been reduced. We also face discrimination in fund allocation for national highway and rural roads projects. However, despite this, we have our own agenda of development and progress to take to the people.

Q.: How far do you think you have succeeded in addressing the development issues in the State?
A.: There is no comparison between the five-year Congress rule and our tenure so far. We have touched almost all sectors crucial for the State's overall development. We have taken several major initiatives for upliftment of women and girls; implemented better pension schemes for ex-servicemen, the handicapped, widows, and elderly people; started special ambulance projects for the benefit of those living in remote areas and invested heavily in roads and hospitals.

An eco task force to protect the State's rich flora and fauna has been created without any assistance from the Centre, which it had promised earlier.

In the last two years, 240 new industries have been set up bringing in investments worth Rs.4,450 crore and creating 10 lakh new direct and indirect jobs. In the power sector, we have framed a new energy policy, and a new 304 mw Maner-Bhali project has been started, whereas not a single unit of power was added under Congress rule. We are also focusing on tourism for employment and revenue generation.

Q.: Your party MLAs are not happy over your style of functioning.
A.: Initially there was some communication gap, but all issues have now been sorted out. All our MLAs and party workers are working towards strengthening the BJP and development of the State. Collective decisions are being taken at the government as well as party level.

Q.: Do you see the BJP and the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, which is supporting the government, parting ways after elections? How will it impact the government?
A.: UKD Minister Diwakar Bhatt resigned from the Cabinet over seat-sharing between the two parties, but I am yet to accept his resignation. Though there are some differences of opinion between us, the UKD still supports the BJP government in the State. I hope our friendship will continue after the elections also. The BJP government is stable and will complete its full term.

Q.: Are you concerned at BSP's growth in Uttarakhand?
A.: The BSP's influence has remained confined to Hardwar and Udham Singh Nagar districts. Its presence is not really a concern for the BJP as our vote share in the State has been increasing.


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