By Tikender Panwar
Showers of greetings and praises have been pouring in on Congress leaders in Himachal from almost all quarters, including the opposition party, for getting two cabinet berths to the state. And why not, after all it has happened for the first time that despite winning only one parliamentary seat out of the four, the state has got two berths in the Union Cabinet. But the euphoria being created throughout the state will not last long, though it has some positive elements as well.
Aspirations of the people
On the one hand it represents the aspirations of the people who worked hard for the victory of the candidates; it is quite natural to see their reflection. But on the other there were aspirations even from those who just voted and did not work for the victory, also who voted against the victor and this represents what I call the ‘nationality’ factor (though Himachal never emerged on a nationality question) and this aspiration of the people per se pertains to development, employment and so on. And it is this aspiration that requires urgent attention and rapid answer, on which I am not at all optimistic. The reasons are many.
(a) The development of the state is linked inter alia to the development of the people. When I say people I do not mean everybody but those who require urgent immediate attention who include, the kisans, workers, youth, students, women, shopkeepers, employees and such others. Quite unfortunately, the wedlock in between the ruling class parties i.e. both the Congress and the BJP with the neo liberal policies is of such a strong covalent bondage that to think anything beyond the reduction of fiscal deficit or the FRBM i.e. the budgetary and fiscal management act is a crime and almost impossible for them to imagine. Hence this so called slogan of development will not cut much ice and shall not benefit the common people, though it may increase the state’s GDP.
(b) The development of the state is also linked to the resources which are of utmost importance for the state to generate. But to think that the state has a capacity to do that would be like playing cricket with a hockey stick. Here arises the need for a special category status as it still exists for some north eastern states and which was strongly argued by my party during the visit of the Finance commission to the state, though both the BJP and the Congress were absent from the meeting however the government presented its view. It needs to be once again reiterated that this special category status was not showered upon us but because our main source of wealth i.e. the forests were nationalized for a national cause and in lieu of these resources we were awarded that status.
(c) Then I would like to attract the reader’s attention towards the share of the state that falls after the Punjab reorganization act. According to the Himachal Adhikar Samiti, this share comes to a total of Rs 5000 crores from hydel generation to 7.19% share in Chandigarh and so on and so forth. Though the incumbent cabinet ministers in the past, have enjoyed and have been enshrined various responsibilities under the constitution of India but not a voice has been raised over these issues or demands. Just being a Himachali would not do, to have a proper and unambiguous perspective for development of the state and its people requires a vision. Earlier, either it did not exist or may be not exercised; now in the present innings of political responsibility this vision is to be seen.
(d) Another very important issue is regarding the immense potential of hydel generation in the state and the linkage between the demands of the people for rehabilitation, compensation etc. It is indeed sordid that despite such a huge potential, the hydel generation is being done in a random manner. No share for the state is fixed. Be it the public sector power companies or the private ones the interest of the state in terms of revenue is being left out. For example in Parvati, Koldam, etc, the state has no share at all, the present ministers from the state cannot abdicate from this responsibility of guarding the interests just by saying that the power ministry does not belong to them and the incumbent government in the state is that of the opposition party. Apart from the interest, the state also has to keep a vigil on large scale discrepancy in the methods and style of awarding compensation and rehabilitation. Again it needs to be reiterated that the question of rehabilitation and compensation is of utmost importance owing to the scarce land available for cultivation in the state.
It is in this background that I thought of writing this piece and while summing up I would not say that I am not elated by the present circumstances, my only fear is that the bourgeois landlord parties have a clear vision of development that takes place on a class basis though some seems to trickle down to the bottom most down the ladder, but this is insufficient for the mass of the people to even survive properly what to talk about living a decent life.
(The writer is member, CPIM State secretariat)