iTV Network hosted Uttarakhand chief minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, for the fourth episode of its 20-day special series, ‘The Chief Minister’s Podium’. We asked questions about the most important issues in Uttarakhand, ranging from employment in hilly areas to the proposed implementation of the Uniform Civil Code, and much more. Dhami also spoke extensively about his government’s ambitions for the state and how he plans to bring them to fruition.

We opened the interview by asking Dhami how he plans to fulfil his promises of development in the state in his second term as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. Responding to the question, Dhami thanked the people of Uttarakhand and said that the voters have created history by voting BJP back to power for a second consecutive term in the state and that his government will use the opportunity to carry forward the progressive measures undertaken during his previous term. He stated, “We will continue all the measures that are important for the development of Uttarakhand.”

Our next question to CM Dhami was about the roadmap for his ambition to place Uttarakhand on the list of the top states of India. Answering the question, he said that his government plans to bring radical changes in the state by 2025 when Uttarakhand will be celebrating its 25th anniversary of statehood. The plan of action, he said, will focus on improving road connectivity in rural areas, generating employment opportunities to de-incentivize outbound migration of people from the state, and enhancing internet connectivity in the state. “We will work to make Uttarakhand one of the top states. Working on boosting internet connectivity, building roads, hospitals & schools as well as generating employment,” said the Uttarakhand CM.

Talking about the people from the frontier regions of Uttarakhand, Dhami said that the populace in these areas is the sentinels of the country. He reiterated his aim to generate employment for people in the border regions and said that the ‘Him Prahari’ scheme will discourage outbound migration from these areas. Dhami remarked, “Our government is working on the ‘Him Prahari’ scheme to generate jobs for people in the border areas.” Further speaking on employment generation, CM Dhami said that it is important to balance culture and industrialization in the state. He was quoted as saying, “We will protect the culture of Uttarakhand & simultaneously focus on building industries in the state.”

We then asked the Uttarakhand CM about his government’s plan to introduce the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the state. Replying to the question, Dhami said that there is no ill intent behind the proposed move and that the law will benefit all sections of the society, including Muslim women. “Uniform Civil Code is for the benefit of everyone. No Muslim woman wants her husband to get 3 wives,” said CM Dhami. He further said that preparations are underway to deliver on the promise of implementation of UCC in Uttarakhand. Moreover, he added, “We are forming a committee of experts & stakeholders to oversee drafting & implementation of UCC. Once the draft is ready, it will be implemented in Uttarakhand.”

The next question for CM Dhami came from the Assistant Editor of NewsX, Uday Pratap Singh, who wanted to know what the Dhami government is doing to boost tourism in Uttarakhand. Dhami said that his government is focusing on upgrading the existing infrastructure in tourist areas. He added that the restoration of the Kedarnath Temple under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attract more pilgrims to the shrine. He remarked, “There is a huge potential for the tourism sector in Uttarakhand. The state has countless rivers, mountains, and shrines. Progress is underway in developing the existing infrastructure and facilities for tourists in the state.”

Dhami then took a question from a young viewer from his state about an alleged growth in the number of illegal Rohingyas in the state. To answer the question, the Uttarakhand CM referred to the drive being undertaken by his government to identify suspected individuals living in the state illegally, Dhami said that the move aimed at weeding out the people with a checkered background residing in the state among the general population. “We have already started a drive to identify & weed out suspicious individuals. We will implement a law to ensure that no suspicious person lives in Uttarakhand or is able to carry out any untoward activity.”

Lauding the initiative to distribute free-of-cost tablets to the children of martyrs of the armed and police forces, CM Dhami said, “Covid has brought in focus the need for digital gadgets. The initiative is praiseworthy & will help children continue their education online.”

Before concluding the interview, the Uttarakhand CM dedicated a few lines to India’s youth. Quoting Swami Vivekanand, he said, “Man is the source of limitless potential, one just needs to know who they are.”