Uttarakhand’s MLAs at mercy of bureaucrats

FP

December 23. Congress MLA Sundar Lal Mandrawal reaches the circuit house in Pauri, Uttarakhand, where he plans to attend the Kot Mahotsava. He has booked two rooms in advance but is refused accommodation by district authorities. He checks into G B Pant University's guesthouse instead.

December 23 again. MLA Lalit Farswan demonstrates in front of the SDM's office in Kapkot, Bageshwar, to protest against an FIR registered against some of his supporters by a PWD executive engineer. No officer pays him any attention; three days later, the Almora MP persuades him to end his agitation.

November 8. Leader of the Opposition Ajay Bhatt is invited by the Navy and the district administration to a function in Ranikhet. Local officials, including the DM, share the dais with Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi. Bhatt sits in the front row of the audience.

Uttarakhand's politicians are constantly accusing bureaucrats of paying them no attention. In the last winter session, the BJP was livid at the omission of the prefix mananiya (respected) with party MLA Ghanshali Bhimlal Arya's name in the printed version of his reply to a question. And at a recent cabinet meeting, minister Harak Singh Rawat said bureaucrats have been ignoring his instructions too.

"This is a very serious issue," Speaker Govind Singh Kunjawal told The Indian Express. "Officers pay no respect to people's representatives. Those who are in government must find a solution."

Kunjwal said he has written twice to the Pauri DM, demanding action against the officials who refused MLA Mandrawal the rooms he had booked. "A week after writing two letters, I am waiting for a reply. If he fails to submit a report, I will call him to the house," the speaker pledged.

He said he has also taken note of the fact that leader of the opposition Bhatt was denied a place on the dais. "I will soon write to the DM of Almora," he said.

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