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Election campaigns ignore real issues

Like elsewhere in the country, the metaphor, tone, tenor and idiom of the ongoing pre-poll campaign in Uttarakhand appears to be determined by sentiments on Narendra Modi.

While the Congress and BJP, the two main contenders, are apparently locked in fierce verbal exchange on the merits and demerits of Modi becoming the next Prime Minister of India, other political parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party, Aam Aadmi Party and the Communist Party of India are only parroting the comments made by Congress on Modi.

Thus, there are no local or national issues being debated in the parliamentary election.

Being a nascent state and handicapped in many ways, at least some burning local issues ought to have received the attention of contenders and their parties.

Polarised opinions

Instead of debating the perennial problems such as migration from the hills, alleged exploitation of state’s resources by land and forest mafia, potable water and power crisis, a lack of adequate medicare, education, roads and sagging public transport, the contenting parties seem to be sharply polarised over one personality.

Are these parties deliberately diverting the attention of the people from the real issues or are they too influenced by media’s unidirectional thrust?

“Why should the candidates bother about the burning public issues?” asks Dr DN Bhatkoti, a popular political analyst, adding, “They are millionaires anyway.”

Uttarakhand was created on the premise that the then eight hill districts had remained in the state of neglect since independence. Its formation on November 9, 2000 preceded many sacrifices by people.

Administration stops

As the tussle for securing favour from the electorate continues, the state administration seems to be a bit rudderless. While Chief Minister Harish Rawat routinely flies in and out of the state capital in a fervent bid to secure support for party candidates including his wife Renuka, the bureaucracy seems to be in a fix over taking decisions.

All kinds of rumours are making rounds. Chief Secretary Subash Kumar is to retire by the end of this month. Meanwhile, the section of electorate which is most affected keeps a studied silence.

Rajendra Prasad Nailwal is a retired Special Principal Correspondent of the Times of India. He now lives in Dehra Dun.

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