"It is not an ordinary step (having an Assembly session in Gairsain) as being projected in some quarters. The three-day session beginning Monday will determine the future course of the state's development," Rawat said in an interview.
    
Gairsain, which represents the aspirations of Uttarakhand agitators, is an emotive issue with a large section of those who fought for statehood having been in favour of the remote hill town being declared the permanent capital of the hill state carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000.     

"Those who read politics into the move should better understand that the Gangotri of Uttarakhand's development will flow from Gairsain only. It is not just a gesture honouring the sentiment of those who fought for statehood to Uttarakhand but also a historic step spelling out our priorities in the state's development roadmap in which hills occupy a prominent place," he said.
    
Criticizing the BJP for casting doubts on the Congress' seriousness regarding Gairsain, Rawat said that it was a great irony that a party which did not dare touch the issue despite being long in power is suspecting the intent of a party which took genuine steps to honour the sentiments of Uttarakhand statehood heroes by laying the foundation stone of an Assembly building at Gairsain and having a session of the House there.
    
"Not even once did they dare mention Gairsain during their prolonged stint in power. They have no moral right to raise a hue and cry now when we are taking a historic step towards honouring the sentiment of statehood agitators and bringing about development in the hills," he said.     

Denying the charge that it was a political stunt in view of the forthcoming Panchayat and Assembly by-polls in the state, Rawat made a reference to his inaugural speech in the state assembly soon after being sworn in that he intended to have a session of the state Assembly at Gairsain.
    
"That was in February when Panchayat elections were far away. Still Gairsain was very much in my mind," he said, adding that he will be very happy if the three-day session could debate burning issues like migration from the hills besides promotion of technical and skill based education among the hill population.

(Agencies)

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