Gairsain for Uttarakhand’s capital?

Ahead of polls, the BJP and the Congress spar over naming the Garhwal village of Gairsain as capital

November 18, 2016 02:35 am | Updated December 02, 2016 04:09 pm IST - GAIRSAIN

: Atop a hill in the Garhwal Himalayas, overlooking its valleys, stands the newly constructed Vidhan Sabha building, where uncertainty over a long-standing demand to declare the village of Gairsain as Uttarakhand’s permanent capital erupted again on Thursday.

In the two-day Assembly session, which began on Thursday, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Pary (BJP) agreed that Gairsain — a sleepy village in the Chamoli district — must either be declared the State’s permanent capital or its summer capital. However, both parties are ambivalent about Gairsain’s status.

As the session began on Thursday, the BJP created a ruckus over Gairsain’s status. During the demand for Statehood, the village was proposed to be the State’s capital since it is situated in the hills and could lead to the development of the hill areas, which was the key issue behind the demand for Statehood. However, when Uttarakhand was given Statehood, Dehradun was made its provisional capital. For 16 years now, consecutive governments have been mulling over the Gairsain issue, and with the elections approaching, the BJP and the Congress highlighted it on Thursday for political mileage.

Uttarakhand BJP president Ajay Bhatt said, “If the Congress government is not clear about the status of Gairsain, then it is wasting public money [by constructing the Vidhan Sabha building at Gairsain].” However, Chief Minister Harish Rawat said the Congress had proved its stance on Gairsain by having the Vidhan Sabha building constructed here.

No agreement

Uttarakhand has 70 Assembly seats and declaring Gairsain as the State’s permanent capital could cost the BJP and the Congress 26 seats in the plains of Haridwar, Udham Singh Nagar and Dehradun. Since both parties fear upsetting voters from the plains, on Thursday too, no conclusion could be reached over the status of Gairsain.

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