Dehra Dun was declared the interim capital of Uttarakhand by the Central Government when the State was formed in Nov 2000, with the final choice being left to the State. Since then, caught between two opposing parties (which we will talk about later) no politician has been “tall” enough to take the question head on and Nityanand Swamy set up the Dixit Commission in Jan 2001. 7yrs and 10 extensions later the Commission submitted it’s report to the Government in August last year.
Uttarakhand was formed because of popular sentiments. India achieved its freedom because of it’s people wanted freedom. If commissions were set up to decide on either of these, India may not have been independent or Uttarakhand may never have been formed.
It is undeniable, that barring a small minority, an overwhelming majority of residents of Uttarakhand do not want Dehra Dun be Uttarakhand’s Capital. Even most of Doonites wish the Capital would move elsewhere. The only sections of society which insists that Dehra Dun be the permanent capital are the real estate dealers, bureaucrats and the leaders of the two National Parties in Uttarakhand. The fight over the issue of Capital is therefore not between Garhwali’s and Kumaoni’s or between the people staying in hills or plains, as vested interests tend to portray, it is rather between the entire local population and the high and mighty.
An overwhelming majority of the local population wish the capital would shift to a more central location. An easy way to prove the point would be by holding a referendum on the issue in the State. Names of probable places can be given and voters asked to choose one. Results of this would end the debate on what people want and it should be binding on the Government.
Labelling any place as unsuitable for being Uttarakhand’s Capital simply because of its proximity to the International border is ridiculous. If local people can stay there, why can’t politicians and the babus? If the latter feel insecure by staying in Garsain, it is high time they are forced to stay there and increase the security of local population. If a place is unfit for staying of the Chief Minister and his ministers because it has poor communications, poor roads and is prone to land slides, then it is all the more important that all of them stay and work there, if the lives of local people are to improve. Until our leaders and bureaucrats live among the most deprived people of our State, the objectives of the founding of our State can never be met. If the mere visit of the President of India was enough to spruce up Dehra Dun, imagine the condition of our City if Rashtrapati Bhawan was permanently located here. The same logic applies to the need of our leaders to shift to the deprived locations of our State.
Unfortunately people of Uttarakhand do not have any party which has their welfare in its heart. The main stream political parties are bound by national constraints in their behaviour. The only local party, UKD, has been on a suicidal course since it’s haydays during the Uttarakhand Agitation. This explains why third parties, like Rajni Rawat, find instant mass support.
The issue of State Capital in intricately linked to the aspirations of our people and development of our State. Until the matter is settled according to the wishes of it’s people, the issue will remain alive. It cannot be wished away, brushed under a carpet or dissected in a scientific lab. The longer politicians take in settling it, the more harm it will do to the State.
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