Why does Himachal not count in national politics?


Both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are going for assembly elections, yet the national newspapers here in Delhi, have just a small para on Himachal elections, somewhere tugged inside, while Gujarat has a devoted full-page. Why is Himachal not so important for the media or even the national politics? The only noise that Himachal made lately in the media circles was when Star News came up with a sting operation on transport minister G S Bali, which too as per judicial enquiry turned out to be doctored and Bali was given a clean chit to the mirth of the man himself and the Congress party.

Going by the buzz around, BJP is likely to form the government this time, not because the Congress has performed badly but the anti-incumbency factor will come largely into play. But you never know the Himachal voter. They have proved all calculations wrong in the past as well. But coming back to the main question… why does not Himachal count in national politics and is not taken seriously. The only prominent persons from Himachal to have made buzz at the national level have been former Chief Minister and late Thakur Ram Lal for all the wrong reasons, when he was the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Sukh Ram for his alleged telecom scam, former Chief Minister Shanta Kumar for his some harsh but forward looking policies as the Union Minister of Civil Supplies. These days, Anand Sharma makes a buzz at times.

In spite of the fact that Himachal counts high on GDP (Rs 25,435 crore) and a per capita income of Rs 33,805 in 2005-06 and a high literacy rate of above 90 per cent, Himachal matters least in national politics. Nobody cares. But why? Is it because the state is doing good and doesn’t need that noise. And good news is not news for media. Himachal just goes about its work without making any statements that might affect the national politics.

Let’s take point by point, why Himachal least counts to the national media and national politics:

1. Himachal just sends four MPs to the centre and the number is not enough to shake any government in the centre. Had it been even 10, it would have made a major difference. But four MPs are a meagre sum.

2. These MPs are mostly back-benchers and make least noise in the Parliament, don’t ask complicated questions, participate least in discussions and are media shy. Anand Sharma, by virtue of being the spokesperson for the Congress is the only person who at times does make small appearances in the national media. But as a matter of fact, he’s not in the Lok Sabha, but is a Rajya Sabha member.

3. Himachal is not divided by religion politics. So no anti-Hindu or anti-Muslim statements and no riots. So Virbhadra Singh does not get a chance to make a dig at Vajpayee or Advani. But even if he does, he’s ignored totally as his statements cannot change the metrics at the centre. Even if Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal make anti-Sonia remarks, they are ignored totally for the same reasons.

4. Himachal, I would say is not divided by caste politics too. Though most of the SC/STs tend to go with the Congress but if a BJP candidate is a local and has done well at the Panchayat level, and local level, they’ll not shy from voting for him.

5. Corruption is low, so no headlines and no hue and cry in the Parliament about that. No commissions set up to enquire into the level of corruption. The last time, such a big Commission was set-up, was to look into the telecom scam and a CBI raid at former Union Minister for telecom, Sukh Ram’s place.

6. Lack of dynamic leaders, who could make a difference at national politics or command a high berth in the Cabinet. The names can be counted on fingers. Shanta Kumar and Sukh Ram.

7. Crime too is low. No Nithari, no Nandigram, no Ram Setu project, so no national outrage or Parliament stalling and walkouts by the opposition. Even the political parties too do not make comments on these issue. The only incident I can remember is a candle light procession on the Mall against Nithari killings. That’s it. Though there are many SEZs earmarked in Himachal too, but the government itself has gone slow and is not adamant or high-handed against the opposition like in West Bengal.

8. No student movements. So no Naxalwadi village, which can start a revolutionary group. Though most of the students fancy a communist ideology (all credits to Rakesh Singha) while in school or college and university, however, once out of the educational arena, they are inducted in to the Congress fold. I’ve failed to understand the reason. CPI(M) has often been able to make its mark in Shimla only, once a while during Assembly elections or at the local Municipal Corporation. But outside Shimla, though SFI, the students’ wing of CPI(M) gets the majority of the seats in the Students’ Union elections, but cannot take beyond that. Any students’ protest is quelled by not putting them in jail. Himachal has found an innovative way to quell students’ rallies. Arrest them and instead of putting them in jail, take away their money and take them far away from Shimla in a remote area from where minimal public transport is available and let them walk back home. So no pressure on jails. And the parents too are against students’ protesting – “College padhne jaate ho ya…

9. People are docile and contented with what they have and by virtue of higher per capita income, even the poverty line is just below 10 per cent. So nobody makes much noise.

10. The issues taken up in the elections, whether be for the Assembly or the Parliament are too local – sadak, schools, colleges, bridges, pensions, paani, bijli, jobs, subsidies and all. No tall promises of bringing in FDI or erection of the Ram Temple or destruction of the Ram Setu Temple. The people of Himachal have as such been not Vaishnavs, but Shaivittes and they have their own local deities to concentrate on. Even the local politics too is guided by local deities and not by major Gods like Ram, Krishna or Allah. Remember, the Ford village in Manali. The local deities held a Jagati Puchch to object against the project. Even a diktat was given to the CM, Virbhadra Singh to appear before the deity, which the CM turned down. Last year, Maheshwar Devta, a local deity of village Chagaon in district Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh took to the streets to protest against the proposed 1,000 MW Karcham-Wangtoo Hydropower Project. So Ram, Krishna temples or Masjids, which otherwise are a national issue, matter least to Himachalis.

If you feel, I have left out any points, don’t hesitate to add your comments below.

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  1. Mr.Vivi

    You should not worry about it. Our Himachal is DevBhoomi and and all himachalis are living here like and brothers and friends. One thing is clear our Himachal is the Symbol of Peace. In that case we should now worry that Media is high lighting or not. We should always praise to Hiamchal and work for Himachal’s Progress. I do not think any highlight and media coverage can progress. We daily watching in TV only crime and corruption news are there. If you think our Dev Bhoomi like Bihar and UP than definitely we should worry about the Media coverage.

    Sunny G.C.Kanojia

  2. All positive points are fine, my only concern is why can’t we give dynamic leaders to the centre who can make a difference not just to Himachal but to the entire nation and don a stage at the international level?

    We are not producing enough good leaders. One reason, I can think is Students’ Elections in HPU were banned till a few years ago. However, leadership is inculcated at the school level, and we’ve had good national leaders who’ve studied in Himachal, mostly from BCS or Dagshai or St. Edward’s. But why can’t politicians of Himachal domicile make a mark at the national level?

    Well – we do have positive points – high literacy, good health, high GDP, high per capita income, low, crime/corruption, my question is that, is that not contributing to the national growth? India Today, the magazine, every year, around August/September brings out a report – “State of the States” in which, consecutively for the past few years, Himachal has been ranked 2nd overall. And that all helps in statistics when you count India. That helps in bringing up the bars when India’s statistics are counted. It stabilises and balances the chart bars pulled down by Bihar and UP. So why does not Himachal count much in national politics. Why is Himachal ignored at the national level in spite of such great contribution to the nation. Are only Hindutva, Shahabuddin’s fake killings, Ram Mandir the only issue for media. I can understand the fosuc on Gujarat, because it brings a lot of FDI and foreign exchange through NRIs, but Himachal without the NRIs contribution has achived a lot on its own. So why this neglect at the national level – both by the government and the national media. I’m not talking about the local media. Why does not the national media highlight the achievements of the state – except for the once in a year – State of the States?

    The age is of branding and making noise about your achievements. So let’s make ourselves counted in. That we’ve contributed a lot to the nation. I can only say – only bad news is news for the media. Also, we lack dynamic leaders who can make an impression at the national and international levels. I hope HimVani and other sites like us can draw attention to our achievements. Looking for more comments from you all.

  3. As they say, “No news is good news.” I would not trade our state’s peace and tranquility to any big banner headline for all the wrong reasons. We Himachalis have contributed a lot for our betterment and in a way being a smaller state has also helped. Being majorly an agrarian society, our good luck has been that the markets across India have expanded and we have lots of opportunity to capture it.

    The challange right now is to create employment opportunities within the state. With State no longer being the largest employer, it is going to bring a major shift in our society. The present education system needs to be reworked and thrust has to be given on technical and professional education.

  4. Well good luck to you, Hema… Charity begins at home… Why don’t you start with the population growth. (Obviously in lighter vein). Do tell us what’s the number right now… and what’s your aim? May be the HP govt should have prizes like Russia and Germany for more kids. 🙂

  5. Vividaditya,
    May be another reason for lower focus on Himachal, despite all those achievement is that the Population here is less and so is its concentration. So when we we say that about 64 lakh people are contributing nine per cent growth rate, in comparison to population and area of other states, we are still contributing less. Whatever health and education services are here are less in comparison to other states, I mean we need less infrastructure, again because we are lesser in number.
    In a lighter vien, though… i Think more the (population) merrier.
    Hema D.

  6. Mr. Vividhaditya

    An informative article. If media has no place for Himachal because of plus points cited in above article, we should pray that it should remain like that for hundred of years. You have given all good reasons and every Himachali would proudly accept that.

    So far as FDI and other progress is concerned, it is coming at a good pace and any Government in place in HP must pay heed with regard to SEZs and positive policies to attract FDIs. Fore sure HP is prospering.

    Competition in today’s media has compelling reasons to run after the spicy news to telecast which include rapes, murders and decoities and during election time the election news, because it has to telecast news round-the-clock. Why to talk about Indian media, soon we will find a place in the international media that at last there is a place left on earth where there is peace – “HIMACHAL PRADESH IN INDIA”.

    Naresh K. Sharma
    Annandale, VA

  7. I really do agree to your article and appreciate the lines.The most important factor for the developement of any state is strong and commanding leaders.Himachal has not produced those leaders.This is very important factor for growth of himachal not just now but for the future of state and its people.As far as i understand myself being a himachali, people of himachal and their leaders lack exposure to the modern India.The growth,developement and lifestyle of people can change two fold in 5 year.Good leaders make life good for people.

  8. Rightly said

    I feel HimVani sets an example which many states, specially the himalayan states need to follow in terms of citizen journalism.

  9. Great Article, but you have only argued the points that, why Himachal is not in the national news, the idea also should have been how can Himachal be in the news, and the answer is – travel and tourism.

  10. is that a good thing or what???

    hell with the importance on national politics or anything..
    we have low corruption..
    very low communal and caste based biases..
    people are living in harmony…
    social living status is second only to Punjab…

    what else do you want..

    do you want Dhumal and Virbhadra to do useless allegation-back-allegation which ultimately prove nothing.. !!!

    I beg to differ on that..

  11. Finally some1 has come out with d q/a which has been bothering me here in Mumbai…
    2day itself i read THE LAST LEAR’S Dir’s art in Mid-Day here giving d cosmopolitan mix in his cast and crew(post Jaya/Raj debate)where he mentions Preity Zinta as a Punjabi!
    As an award winning filmmaker from Shimla i’ve raised this time & again in interactions during mu screenings only 2 b dubbed as Vivek ‘VIDROHI’ @ HIPA once! i think people there r too laid back 2 aassert their identity…their vision is not beyond d Mall Road as those in power time and again have failed 2 recognise their hero’s in different fields in HP so that d world takes notice & gives localites some role models 2 follow…
    When i came here 20 yrs ago people thought that Shimla is in J&K and i’m related 2 Mohan Meakins thanx 2 Old Monk!! D press can play a greter role in disseminating such info and achievers but most of them most of d time r “busy” covering Cong vs. BJP!
    I can go on & on but i think v get what v deserve.U r talking of Nation i think v don’t even stand regionally!Post elections TIMES NOW Channel panelists mentioned HP elections as ‘MUNICIPAL”! R prominent leaders on TV cut a very sorry fig and were laughed at!!! And ‘they’ thought that they’ve cracked some joke! I’m having a headache already…

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