UTTARAKHAND POLITICS: GOVERNANCE AFTER 2022 ASSEMBLY ELECTION
The BJP has yet again won the two third majority in the 2022 assembly elections and is poised to form the government. The people have voted it back to power despite the dismal performance of its government in all fronts. In fact both the national parties i.e. BJP and Congress have ruled the state completely ignoring the fundamentals of governance of a border and hilly state. Except during the five years of ND Tewari government the state has not achieved much after its creation. The people of Uttarakhand are intelligent, hard working and nationalist to the core; yet are gullible enough and hence time and again ignore the fallacies and incompetence of their rulers. They have contributed immensely in protecting the nation’s border as every 6th soldier of Indian army and Para-military forces is from Uttarakhand. The leaders from Uttarakhand in the past had significant presence in the national politics. The people who fought and died for this state’s creation must be turning in their grave with tears in their eyes as to what type of leaders Uttarakhand has been producing since 2001 November 2001 after creation of the separate State.
Uttarakhand has produced selfish and corrupt politicians in thousands these days but rarely a leader with vision who could provide honest leadership to the people to bring them development, happiness and a sense of belonging to a vibrant hill state where Gods live in the heart and mind of people. During 21 years of creation of Uttarakhand intelligent and educated people are realizing that the national leadership of two national parties who have ruled the state for 21 years treat this state as a tool to perpetuate incompetence compounded by corruption of highest order by its politicians and bureaucrats. Bureaucrats are smart people who know it very well that they can befool the incompetent leaders and feed them well and then rule and exploit. The national parties want to promote incompetent people to be in charge for grinding their own axe. Inspite of this the people have again given mandate to BJP considering the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is heading a nationalist government and had liberally giving funds on roads and other infrastructure but the high command ignores the problem of vision among the state leaders.
Ecologically also the carrying capacity of hills has also reached its peak in several locations. The very existence of people, cultural integrity and the ecology here is seriously threatened if no action is taken by the society. According to a survey carried out by SDC Foundation reveals that there has been whopping 30 % increase in electorates during last ten years from 2011 to 2021. However, in plain districts the increase was almost 43 percent. The increase in other states was much less like in Goa (13 %), Manipur (14%), UP (18%), and Punjab 215. Let us discuss some of the immediate issues for action by the new government.
- Uttarakhand is a border state and very sensitive from the security point of view. There has been massive settlement going on of outsiders in a systematic manner to change the demographic pattern of the hills especially in border areas. Religious structures are coming up in the hills, people are being lured for conversion and gradually an attempt is being made to create the communal tension. Several cases of elopement of girls have come to the notice and it is feared that it is being done deliberately by settling people in small market places. There is a need for a detail inquiry on this. In this regard we would like to make it abundantly clear that Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha believes in constitutional values of secularism and complete harmony among all sections of people living in Uttarakhand.
- Second most important issue is the need for enactment of an Act to prohibit transfer of property and land transfer rights so that the cultural identity and protection of ecology of the Uttarakhand is ensured by preventing indiscriminate buying of land and property by the outsiders. Only people having domicile of hills in 1950 should be allowed to buy land and personal property in hills. In other areas the cut off date should be the year 2001 when Uttarakhand was carved out from Uttar Pradesh so that they also get their Uttarakhand identity.
- As per constitution delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies is to be carried out periodically based on the population. The delimitation of Assembly seats is of fundamental importance to retaining the identity of hill people. Hence delimitation process should have the additional criteria of geography and terrain in hills apart from the population so that the numbers of seats in hill districts are not reduced in future. This should have been done at the time of reorganization of the UP state bill and creation of Uttarakhand. Till such time the Act is amended the delimitation process should be frozen indefinitely.
- There is a tendency to deprive the unemployed youths of the state by not making recruitments in various government departments and instead engaging contractors for providing the man power in different departments. Most of the contractors are from outside the state and consequentially large numbers of the people employed by them are outsiders. Further, the whole system of man power engagement is not only bad as many under qualified people were engaged and the system is promoting middlemen who take a big chunk of salary away from the employees. Because of this lopsided policy the youths are migrating to other states and it is building up resentment among the unemployed youths. It is also breeding corruption.
- The industrial policy of the Uttarakhand state is flawed as it does not have any preference for employing the local youths. Uttarakhand need to reserve 70 percent of lower rank jobs in all industries for the locals. Special efforts should be made to develop and conserve local unique resources (for example medicinal plants, fruits, agricultural crops, eco-tourism and unique animal/bio-resources etc for employment generation and preventing the migration of people.
- Uttarakhand is under the grip of Drug mafia and the local administration is either incompetent or hand in glove with them. Recently People were seen drinking and taking drugs openly in Mussoorie when the tourists came to see the snow fall in Mussoorie. Drugs are openly available all over Dehradun and the local mafia leaders are busy in minting money for them and their cronies.
(The writer is the Chairman of Centre for Resource Management and Environment)