One of the most popular tourist destinations in India, Uttarakhand has seen quite a few changes in political power in recent times. From Congress’ Narayan Dutt Tiwari to current BJP’s BC Khanduri-led government, the mandate of people dwindles after every term of a government.
Since its formation in the year 2000, Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand) has been in the news for the Tehri dam issue and the Kumaoini and Garhwal conflict. This time around also, the issues in the state are the same, besides the performance of the state government.
Tehri dam issue has been raked up in the state for many years and this year is no different. The dam is being built on Bhagirath river near Tehri town. The dam which provides water and electricity to Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi has been a bone of contention between authorities, environment NGOs and the local people. The dam has so far displaced lakhs of people in the region, forcing them to move courts over resettlement. The protests have resulted in the delay of the project.
The dam’s construction came to a halt when its location was questioned as the site witnessed a strong earthquake in the early 90s and another quake would pose a great danger to the lives of many villagers in the plains. The dam has also brought down the water flow in the Bhagirathi river, thus causing paucity in the irrigation water for many areas.
Being a contributor to the Ganges, the Bhagirathi river is considered holy by Hindu devotees and the BJP will ratchet up the issue during campaigning while Congress would like to take credit for the project.
Kumaon vs Garhwal
The issue of regionalism has been on the poll agenda of the state since it was carved out from UP. The Kumaons and Garhwals are two categories who are regarded as major vote banks in the region. The people from Garhwal and Kumaon have had their Kingdoms in the state in the past, hence a strong sense of community and history.
Despite moving from plains to hill regions, both the ethnic groups have had their conflicts on the basis of traditions, culture and language.
The people in the region have always asked for more importance to them. Ever since Dehradun was chosen as the capital of the state, the move was opposed by the regional forces. The demand for autonomy to the region was given attention by setting up the High Court of the state in Nainital. Autonomy to the region and its people would be a big issue this time round as well and will draw a big chunk of voters.
Khanduri Govt’s performance
The present Chief Minister Lt. Col. BC Khanduri is a retired Army officer and regarded very highly in the region. Since taking the reins from Congress’ Narayan Dutt Tiwari in 2007, Khanduri has made for himself and the party a very strong and clean political ground. By making efforts to bring in transparency in his work and touring state districts to connect to people, he has put the BJP in positive framework.
Rolling out Tata Nano from Uttarakhand’s Pantnagar plant has been a big achievement for the Khanduri government.
Congress on the other hand is determined to raise the issue of cut in the fund for SC/ST welfare in the state, slow growth, lawlessness and corruption. Besides that, Congress’ main poll plank would be the achievements of the UPA government at the Centre.