Former CM calls for President’s rule in Uttarakhand

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Thursday sought President’s rule in Uttarakhand, saying bureaucrats were not obeying ministers’ orders.

“That the Vijay Bahuguna government has lost all control over the bureaucracy was more than evident when three ministers stalled a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday night for over an hour. They wanted Mr. Bahuguna to make an adverse entry in the records of several IAS officers, including the Chief Secretary, for not obeying their instructions,” Mr. Nishank told reporters here.

Social Welfare and Transport Minister Surendra Rakesh of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Urban Development Minister Pritam Singh Panwar of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and Secondary Education Minister Mantri Prasad Naithani, an independent, who were irate and vociferous over the attitude of the IAS officers, sought to walk out of the room but another senior Minister, Harak Singh Rawat bolted the door. They agreed to participate in the meeting only after the Chief Minister ordered the Chief Secretary to ask all bureaucrats to obey the orders of ministers.

“When bureaucrats are not obeying ministers, the lot of the common man could very well be imagined,” Mr. Nishank said.

This is the second time in recent months the Chief Minister has asked officials to respect ministers and MLAs.

Harish Dhami, MLA of the ruling Congress from Dharchula, undertook a fast in July, accusing officials of refusing to heed his suggestions during flood relief works. Mr. Dhami ended the protest after Mr. Bahuguna ordered the officials to execute relief works immediately, as suggested by the MLA.

Shailarani Rawat, Congress MLA from Kedarnath, wondered why not a single official was punished for laxity in relief and rescue works after the mid-June deluge and landslips. Prompt response by local officials could have saved many lives in the worst-hit Kedar Valley, she said, adding the Chief Minister should tame the erring bureaucrats.

“The frustration among ministers and helplessness amongst thousands of shelterless starving villagers in Uttarakashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Bageshwar, and Pithoragarh speaks of a total collapse of the system, and only President’s rule can deliver justice to the masses,” Mr. Nishank said.