By: Satyakam Bharti
In Maoist-infested Jharkhand, 175 civilians were killed in violent incidents in 2007, while 997 people lost their lives in Himachal Pradesh due to road accidents in the same year. And yet we take pride in calling Himachal a peaceful state. Insurgency certainly has a political character in Jharkhand and therefore is difficult to deal with, but accidental deaths in Himachal are ‘mishaps’, and therefore it seems it’s below the dignity of any local politician to be concerned about it and make it an election issue. Himachalis can live dangerously, they seem to be telling people around as they go canvassing, seeking votes in the name of national security, secularism, communalism…
Politics in India is a great theatrical blame game based on mud-slinging and rhetoric, aimed at amusing the masses. Himachal cannot be any different and therefore ever since serious campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls started there has hardly been any constructive talk on any of the issues that affect the day to day life of common Himachalis. No candidate has been heard saying that he would try to get more Central funds to improve the road infrastructure in the state. No one uttered a word about pushing the Central environment and wildlife departments in ameliorating the hardships of local people living within sanctuary areas of the state. No one has till now talked about thousands of Himachalis working outside who have been forced to come back after being rendered jobless due to recession. And it hardly matters for any politician in the state that Himachali people are facing forced displacement due to mega project in much greater magnitude than any other state.
The fact that nepotism and dynasty politics are two major factors that decide the country’s leaders, one can hardly expect politicians to talk about real issues except for the garibi hatao and corruption slogans our political breed got as inheritance. As they themselves seem to have got bored, or may be a bit ashamed, making meaningless speeches, the current elections have thrown up quite a surprises with communal talk and vicious verbal attack at individual level, taking Indian politics to another low.
Considering that the ruling class in Himachal is hardly capable of any ingenious thinking beyond imitating their national icons, it would be wishful thinking to expect any great initiative from them. And therefore, local politicians have been busy repeating what their party bosses in Delhi have been singing – fighting terrorism, money in Swiss banks, CBI and now a certain Mr Quattrocchi. All these issues, of course, form the backbone of India’s politics, but a common Himachali voter may not be able to relate to them, except for the fact that the current CBI chief in from Himachal.
Starting tomorrow top national leaders would address voters across the state and they cannot be expected to be aware of issues being faced by a small state like Himachal, but the Dhumals and Virbhadras can certainly do a great favour to their supporters if they at least speak up, if not debate the future of the state.