Shimla: The new Government of Himachal Pradesh, led by the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, has re-shuffled 34 IAS officials on January 5, 2018. Amongh these 34 officials, 10 were posted as the Deputy Commissioners of various districts.
Vikas Labro and Yunus Khan were the only two IAS Officers, who were not transfered and still hold the post of DCs of Una and Kullu respectively.
While there is nothing new in re-shuffling officials occupying important positions with the change in the government, a different pattern was observed emerging for the selection of candidates for these positions.
For the most important positions, the party is picking up candidates with a strong right-wing ideological background,well-tuned with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and had served dedicatedly as full-timers for the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
Other than this major decision to re-shuffle the administrative officials, the Chief Minister, Jairam Thakur, and his cabinet ministers continue to assure the public of delivering massive reforms in the governance and administration.
The Chief Minister, right after the swearing-in ceremony on December 27, had told the people that he would go after the ‘VIP Culture’. He had expressed consternation about the poor financial health of the Hill State, which is buried under a gigantic loan of Rs. 46,000 crores.
The biggest assurance is that the party and its ministers will imbibe and embody the concept of political equality as a way of life.
As Chief Minister is said to have hailed from a common farmer community, the people are expecting to witness a change in the feudal mindset of the politicians, ministers, and bureaucrats. The public thought this time all official formalities like the oath-taking ceremony, the usual cavalcade of luxury cars, and grand welcomes would be simpler instead of usual pompous display of power and privilege.
Grand Ceremony, Demand for Luxuries, Transfers
However, the ceremony came out to be pompous one in which a large number of so called VIPs including the BJP’s top guns Amit Shah and Narendra Modi and Chief Ministers of several states were invited.
Though, the Chief Minisiter denied it, the reports regarding the demand of the ministers for more expensive luxury vehicles and the quarrell over official residences are not going with the claims of ending VIP culture.
Public Money Frittered Away on Bouquets
Other than that, as per a Hindi Daily Jagran, the Chief Minister was greeted at the State Secretariat by presenting him bouquets. The cost of these bouquets, said the daily, ranged between Rs. 300 to 1,000 depending on the quality and quantity of the flowers. However, the bureaucrats did not spend on these expensive bouquets from their own pockets, but from official accounts. A plethora of bouquets was seen at the Chief Minister’s Office or any place he visited.
After the news appeared in the paper, the Chief Minister issued directions that no official visiting him would present bouquets.
The Chief Minister had fired all the re-employed officials after their retirement. The party has made the re-employment of retired employees a major issue prior to the elections. However, now the government has realized that in some cases, it can’t help it either.
In a cabinet decision taken yesterday, the service of 214 retired patwaris/kanungos engaged on contract basis were given extension till August, 2018 until the new batch of 1120 patwaris undergoing training will be recruited.
Further, the Chief Minister today proposed setting up more micro and small scale industries using the ample surplus land under Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).
Yesterday’s Assurances by CM and Cabinet Ministers
There would be zero tolerance towards the crime against women and corruption, said the Chief Minister while annoucing a 24×7 ‘Gudiya’ helpline today. The Chief Minister during his visit to the Press Club. To curb the corruption, the Atal Help Line will be provided, he said.
The Cabinet Ministers are also conducting meetings with their concerned departments and assuring a revolution in work culture.
Industries Minister Bikram Singh
Bikram Singh today assured he would make the state an industrial hub of the country in 100 days. As geographical variations have always limited the expansion of industries in the state, Bikram assured uniform industrialization by introducing a ‘New Industrial Policy’ focusing on ‘Rural Industrialization’.
He assured at the very least 80 per cent employments in up-coming industrial units to the youth of Himachal.
The minister also assured the Mining Officers will conduct regular inspection and form a special flying squad to check illegal mining. H
e said the mining sites and quarries will be auctioned in a transparent manner.
Minister for Food, Civil Supplies Kishan Kapoor
Similarly, Kishan Kapoor, in a meeting of Officers of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department at Shimla today, promised there will be no compromise on quality of essential commodities under PDS.
The officers will physically go in the field and conduct regular inspection of fair price shops, take samples and ensure reporting, he claimed.
Kapoor assured all the ration cards will be linked with Aadhar Number within 100 days. A toll free numbers 1967 is already functioning to redress the grievances of consumers, he said.
The government is giving a subsidy of more than 220 crore on subsidized food in Himachal, and it is the “duty of officers to ensure quality in this ration to provide best food to consumers in every nook and corner of the State,” he said.
Urban development, Housing and TCP Minister Sarveen Chaudhary
Minister Sarveen Chaudhary on January 5 presided over a review meeting of HIMUDA. She assured the concerned officials will complete all the developmental projects in a time bound manner. She said “no compromise will be tolerated in the quality of works and complete transparency should be maintained in the departmental affairs”.
The Minister gave the department 100 days for highlighting the priority of works with the projection of the cost and resource management. She said a cleanliness drive will be launched in the state, if the statement of the Minister is considered.
As per the Minister, so far, the HIMUDA has developed 17,229 houses, flats and plots.
The construction of 146 flats and development of 181 plots is in progress, while four housing colonies at Sheel, Dharmapur, Trilokpur and Rajwari are in pipeline, she said.
The minister is assuring construction of five clusters for solid waste management in Baddi, Hamirpur, Kangra, Shimla and Mandi. Vendor markets will be opened in different parts of the state and all possibilities of providing parking spaces will be explored.
The new government has promise fixing the errors in working of government departments. These sessions of claims and promises are likely to continue for a month or so.
The Chief Minister is repeatedly expressing gratitude towards the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party high-command for giving him a chance to serve. He also assured the public that the foot-steps of PM Modi in the field of development will be followed in Himachal too.
Administrative Policy Paralysis
However, the biggest challenge for the government would be to do away with the administrative policy paralysis.
To the dismay of the public, there has been a major debate over the excess interference of legislature with the executive, which often prompted the judiciary to step in. The relation between the political class and the permanent executive hasn’t been so healthy.
It is evident from the repeated need of the intervention from the apex court to make the government work properly.
The court’s intervention comes in response to petitions by the vigilant section of the civil society, watchful media and the Right to Information Act.
In fact, with an intention to put a check increasing erratic and unresponsive executive power, the apex court had ordered formation of the Civil Service Board.
Congress Rally in Shimla (Video): Shukla Mimics PM Modi’s Signature Dialogue While Mocking at Promises of ‘Achhe Din’
Shimla-Congress Jan Akrosh Rally held in Shimla on March 10, 2021, witnessed a huge gathering and was attended by veteran leader Virbhadra Singh, Rajeev Shukla, in charge and member of Working Committee of Indian National Congress and party representatives from various districts.
The rally was held to express anguish over price hikes in LPG and petroleum fuels, unemployment which is at an all-time high, rampant privatization by putting government resources on a sale for the benefit of corporate, corruption, and the promise of “Achhe Din” made by BJP before 2014 elections.
At the same time, the rally was a desperate attempt to revive Congress which is on the verge of extinction in context to role and power of an opposition. The leaders tried to send out a message to stand united and leave all sorts of differences behind to bring back the party to power ahead of elections to Municipal Corporations and 2022 polls in Himachal Pradesh.
This extinction is worsened by internal politics – the reason the party has failed to show unity and fight as one unit for a long time now.
The scenes of Natti being performed by workers on the beats of traditional instruments being played by local artists cheered the crowd. Others had arranged Punjabi dhol to mark their presence more loudly .
On reaching the stage to address the rally, former Chief Minister and Congress’s face in the State, Virbhadra Singh, also took a small moment to dance on Pahari music before proceeding to his speech. This was perhaps the only moment where workers actually felt most excited and tried to get glimpses of the veteran leader.
He advised the party leaders to establish and maintain the discipline to strengthen the party.
Shukla referred to Virbhadra Singh as “Shere-Himachal” while addressing him.
Shukla targeted Prime Minister Narender Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party Government by taking a jibe at them. He mimicked the signature dialogue of PM “Bhayion aur Behno” and asked the party workers to identify it.
“PM Modi is putting on sale everything Congress has built for the nation,” Shukla said while referring to rampant privatization of government organizations, services, infrastructure and resources.
In his address, the leader of the opposition, Mukesh Agnihotri, highlighted rising debt on the state. He gave an estimate of the debt ( Rs 85,000 crores) on the state at the end of current BJP government tenure.
You can get glimpses of the rally and listen to Shukla’s complete address in the video below:
Himachal Records 81% Turnout in 3rd Phase of PRI Polls, Congress Makes a Come Back in Theog MC after 20 Years
Shimla-The third phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutes in Himachal Pradesh recorded around 81 percent polling on January 21, 2021. The elections were held in 1137 Gram Panchayats in this phase. The highest 94 percent polling was registered in Lodhi Majra Panchayat of Nalagarh development block in Solan district. This information was released by a spokesperson of HP Election Commission
District-wise, Sirmaur recorded 85% turnout, followed by Solan (85%) Kullu (84%),Chamba (82.8%), Mandi (82.7%), Una (81.1%), Shimla (82%),Una (81%), Bilaspur (80.3%), Hamirpur (78.1%), Kangra (78%), and Kinnaur (70%).
Further, 48 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation also cast their votes.
The Spokesperson said that the poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state.
Counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on January 22, 2021, at block headquarters.
Congress made a come back to Theog Municipal Council after 20 years. While Vivek Thapar was elected as the Chairman of the MC, Reen Roy was elected as the Vice-Chairman. Congress has already registered wins in Rohru and Rampur MCs and Chopal, Kotkhai and Sunni Nagar panchayats.
The HPCC chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore, while speaking to media persons yesterday, said that of the total seven Wards of the Theog MC, Congress has claimed victory on four wards while remaining three Wards went to independent candidates. Congress alleged that BJP had left no stone unturned to pressurize, lure, and threaten elected members to gain their support.
Rathore mocked at the defeat of BJP MP’s bother in Mandi district. Further, the candidate in Ghumarwin of Bilaspur – home district of BJP Chief Jagat Prakash Nadda- had also faced defeat, Rathore said. BJP candidate in Sujanpur – home to Union Minister for State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur-could also not register a victory and lost, he said.
Congress also registered a victory in elections to Parwanoo MC. Kuldeep Singh Rathore, said that winning candidate Nisha Sharma joined Congress yesterday. She had won twice from the same Ward on BJP ticket. This time, she was denied ticket and fought the elections as an independent candidate.
Rathore alleged that the government has been trying to threaten Nisha by registering a fake case of illegal construction. Similarly, husband of Chandrawati – another Congress councilor in Parwanoo- who runs a depot was fined wrongfully yesterday, Rathore alleged.
While BJP has been making claims of victory on the majority of seats, Congress had been terming it as a bluff. Also, it had been alleging BJP of misusing government machinery. Independent candidates are being bought and allurements are being given to winning Congress candidates, Rathore alleged.
Himachal: 80% Voter Turnout in 2nd Phase of Panchayat Polls
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Election Commission informed that the elections for 1208 Gram Panchayats were held today in the second phase in which around 80 percent polling was registered.
Overall, 75 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation cast their votes as per the standard operating procedures.
The highest polling has been registered in Nandpur Gram Panchayat of Nalagarh developmental block of Solan district where the voter turnout was reported to be 96 percent.
The poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state. The counting of votes for Pradhan, Up-Pradhan and members was under the process and the results were awaited till late evening. The counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on 22 January 2021 at block headquarters.
Election-related process and results have been uploaded for the general public on sechimachal.nic.in.
The election for third and final phase for 1137 Panchayats would be held on 21 January 2021.
The first phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions in Himachal Pradesh was held in 1228 Gram Panchayats on January 17, 2021. The overall polling percentage in the first phase was reported to 77.50%.
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