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Power Imbalance

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The Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha’s budget session began on Monday with the traditional Governor’s address. It is expected that, to woo the electorate, there will be provisions in the budget in the context of the coming Lok Sabha elections. In anticipation of this, the Opposition is already busy crafting its own narrative beginning with the controversy on the ‘failure’ to hold the budget session in Gairsain. This is being projected as ‘discrimination against the hill people’. The Congress will hold a symbolic ‘session’ at Gairsain to record its objection, even though some of its own members signed a request seeking holding the session in Dehradun, as it was ‘too cold in the hills’. (It’s not the MLAs who suffer the cold at Gairsain, it is the supporting staff of all kinds that faces its impact, as the necessary infrastructure required for them has not yet been built.) The protests against the decision included a wannabe MLA taking off his clothes outside the Vidhan Sabha to show the invulnerability of Uttarakhandis against the cold, while a former MLA declared his usual hour long ‘maun vrat’ on the issue.

Governor Lt General Gurmit Singh’s address focused on the Pushkar Singh Dhami Government’s achievements, primarily the advantages of the UCC legislation, but also the success of the Global Investors’ Meet, the G20 summits, the promotion of the state’s products, pilgrimages and tourism, development of connectivity and infrastructure in the hills, etc.

It will be the Opposition’s task to try and prove these claims as unsubstantiated and point out the flaws, particularly regarding the UCC. But, will it? Going by the past record, the fierce debates expected in the House have been very few and far between. Actually, the Congress seems somewhat intimidated by the ruling BJP’s numbers in the House and would rather focus on drama before the media’s gaze. Maybe something different will emerge this time around, but it seems unlikely. It is no wonder the Vidhan Sabha sessions are getting shorter to the extent they do not meet the laid down criteria. Perhaps it would help if the Speaker becomes more partial towards the opposition to give it a hand up and, thereby, make House proceedings more interesting and informative. The issues should not all be left to panel discussions on TV.