Infrastructure is top priority: Trivendra Singh Rawat

Neelu Vyas

“Don’t compare me with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath,” says Trivendra Singh Rawat, the Chief Minister of Uttrakhand.

In a candid interview with Rajya Sabha TV, Rawat says every person has a different style of working, Yogi is aggressive but he believes in doing things at his own pace but the end result should be the fast development of the state.

He says Uttrakhand did not progress in the last sixteen years because of political instability but this year after the huge mandate which BJP got he is trying to put things on a fast track be it infrastructure or the social intervention schemes.

On being asked that he is carrying on a Hindutva agenda symbolically Trivendra Rawat said he has built a cowshed in his official residence that is because of the importance cow holds in the Indian tradition. He even emphasised that he had recently refused to wear an academic gown saying it’s a relic of the colonial past.

Rawat said when he can wear indigenous clothes then what’s the need to wear an academic gown which does not even belong to India. Despite all this Rawat out rightly dismissed all reports of carrying on an RSS agenda in the state.

You can watch the entire interview on Rajya Sabha TV Wednesday 10 pm in our flagship program TO TH POINT.

Q: You have spent almost 150 days as CM, are you satisfied with the stint?

A: Yes. I am very much satisfied. The initiatives that we have enforced will definitely be beneficial to the people of the state, whether it is in the educational field or the infrastructure or be it other skill development things; we are aiming the best for these sectors.

We are planning the railways till Badrinath as well. Char Dham Marg which is there will bring in more tourists in the state. Usually, the tourists used to come on Saturdays and Sundays but now the number of tourists will increase a lot. Our initiatives will help in increasing number of footfall in our state.

Q: In the past few months, you have been compared to Yogi Adityanath. People say that he governs UP with aggression compared to you. Is it a fair judgment?

A: Neither do I think in this way nor do I compare myself with anyone. Everyone has their own way of working. The aim should be the overall development of the state. Everyone has their own pace of working as well.

The main task is to find the correct direction and then do whatever needed to carry it out. If you don’t the right attitude towards your aim then you will not get the desired results.

Q: Formation of Uttarakhand took place in the year 2000, along with it many others states were also formed. These states are BJP ruled states. Analysts say that Uttarakhand didn’t progress that much as compared to Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand?

A: I have seen this in Jharkhand. I had an opportunity to work with the Jharkhand govt for two and a half years for party work. I even did party work in Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh has progressed a lot but past 15 years. The state has not shown desired progress. But now after Raghubar Das become the CM, the state has started progressing. The problem with Uttarakhand was that whenever there was a government formation, it comprised of many parties. If we see Narendra Tiwari’s government in 2002, he formed his government by taking UKD and BSP together.

In 2007, it was BJP government we had to take UKD along with us.  But this time, BJP has full majority win. Progress in the state has started gearing. We have got 12,000 crore rupees fund for our development of roads and railways.  We have got permission to build railway till Badrinath.

Q: From the environmentalists’ point of view so much of development may harm the environment itself…How will government balance the development and the environment together?

A: Today the state of Uttarakhand is much developed without hampering the forest areas. In fact, the forest areas have increased a lot. People of Uttarakhand are very sensitive towards this matter. The importance of trees is very much present among the people of Uttarakhand. Within the budget, the environment clause is clearly mentioned.

Q: Now we will talk about zero- tolerance, there were allegations of corruption on the previous government. Because they lost their stance. The base of your government is on an anti-corruption plank, how is your government acting upon zero- tolerance policy towards corruption?

A: Today I am sitting in a very vital position and I am telling you that the corruption spreads from the top. Priority should be given to cleanse the source of it. I have promised to the people that corruption will not prevail and will take every action to curb it. Recently a land corruption case came to us from Udhamsinghnagar, we working effectively towards it now. Even the other cases which come up, we do make it our priority to look into it. After introspecting we do take strict action and even punish them if required.

Q: Are in you a plan to open up to any of the corruption cases of your previous government?

A: As I have mentioned earlier that we don’t go by violence or get influenced by any group while taking any decision. If we get a full proof about any kind of corruption, we do take actions. But we can only find that charge sheets are filed and then there is no proper result to it. To be clear I don’t want to do such kind of shallow work.

Q: How are you dealing with the mining mafias in your state?

A: We don’t have so much of cases on lime stone mining. There is a region where lime stones are in abundance but we have not received any kind of complaints from there in the past four months. One thing that we have done, we have put heavy restrictions on illegal sand mining from the riverbed. We have even stopped the illegal stone crushers from the area.

Q:  You believe in short term policies, How far is it true? What measures are you taking on improving the policy making of the state?

A:  Firstly, we didn’t have a fashion designing institute in our state. Secondly, we are in the plastic era, our earth has become a plastic planet. Thirdly, the inflow of tourists will be in higher numbers in the upcoming future. So we are working extremely hard to make an effort to enhance these agendas mentioned.

Q: Your state is executing the funds from centre effectively… People are complaining that your dependency towards these funds is more prominent. So what measures are you actually formulating to generate revenues on your own in your state?

A) It is true that our budget is Rs 40,000 crore and out income is RS 19,000 crore. Rs 7000 crore is of state funds and Rs 12,000 crore is the fund we get it from central excise. So a total of Rs 19,000 crore is our income. Now there is a lot of corruption happening in the mining sector. Till date, we are getting revenue of Rs 400 crore from there. We have a target of getting a revenue double than previous one. Leakage of electricity in various sectors is also an alarming factor. We intend to stop them as well.

Q: The state right now has a debt of Rs 48,000 crore, how are you dealing with this?

A: The debt cannot be paid in one go. The path that we are following will definitely yield good results. We are planning to start our 28 hydel projects soon.

Q: You will make Lokayukta an independent body within 100 days… How far is it true and what is the real roadmap to archive it?

A: Lokayukta Bill has become a property of the state Assembly. But initially, I did say that why we need a Lokayukta if we work correctly. We should aim to be a corruption free state. Modi ji is even working strictly towards corruption. There are many people who have clean conscience and we can make a difference with their help.

Q: 5 MLAs are from Congress in your government, there is a talk that they are still considered as outsiders, senior BJP leaders are facing troubles coordinating…

A: As a CM I can assure you that I have no issues working with them. They all coordinate properly and we do take their help every time. Effectively we take decisions and it is in the rarest of the rare cases that we decide alone, mostly in emergencies. Every decision is taken by the cabinet. Once the party has given them symbol and they come winning, where is the question of the outsider coming from. Most of the politicians in our party are seasoned, so there is no question of differences in our ideologies.

Q: People say that as a CM you have to walk the tight rope? When you were selected as the CM candidate there were other strong contenders as well like Shridhar Mehraj? How do you tackle the ego clash among the contenders?

A: This is the sign of healthy democracy. BJP has many desirable alternatives to fight for a position. But ones the decision is taken by the party, no one gets scattered. A party member remains firm on that decision. Fortunately, we don’t have such kind of dispute within our state and we cooperate and coordinate efficiently.

Q: You belong from the RSS background… People have complaints that you are running the state on Hindutva agenda very symbolically? You have made a cow shade in your government residency, you have refused to wear an academic gown during one of your visits in a university, saying that it’s a symbol of a colonial past. Is a sign of RSS agenda or is it out of your personal choice?

A:  I remember in 1948, Prof Vasudev Singh was the MLA then. He put up a Sanskrit get together in the Tilak Hall of the Assembly. I was doing my journalism that time. I was there for a month’s training and I had the opportunity to attend the occasion. Will you call it a Hindutva agenda? Sanskrit is the mother of all creations. The entire nation is now aware of the importance of cow. Even the non-Hindu people understand the importance.

Q: What about the migration, your government is also bringing up with a start up policy for migration, there is a long term policy to stop migration, what is your government doing regarding it?

A: We are making it a social issue. There are people who are the think tanks who are working towards resolving the issue. We have come down to a solution. We are also putting up an Ayog for migration. Our aim is to focus on reverse migration. We have declared 13 districts and 13 new places.