Updated: March 12, 2017 4:25:44 am
Uttarakhand, which saw seven chief ministers since 2000 and no majority for any single party after 2002, has given an overwhelming vote to the BJP, setting the scene for stable rule.
The state that has seen a lot of political fluidity recently, significantly, is perhaps the only one in the country where over 60 per cent of its area is not under any police jurisdiction.
An old British period system, subsequently codified by the Uttarakhand government, runs the largely crime-free areas that come under the civil or revenue police, with a patwari or land record keeper as the head. “Whenever we want to open a thana, people protest and say they prefer a patwari,” laughed a police superintendent of Garhwal district.
The BJP fought the election only on Narendra Modi plank and the result shows the hopes riding on it.
The teenaged granddaughter of BJP Dalit candidate Khajan Dass, who won from the reserved seat of Rajpur Road, celebrated his victory with her friends and relatives at the party’s headquarters.
The celebrators “firmly believed” Modi would bring jobs to the state, eliminate poverty and ensure social equality.
Of the total 53,483 sq km area of Uttarakhand, 86 per cent or 46,035 sq km is classified as “hills”.
“Politicians have not yet understood the aspirations of the people of the hills,” says professor Annpurna Nautiyal of HNB University. The new government needs to evolve a new language to address both the monkey menace and the idol theft. “The verdict is unprecedented, so is the challenge,” adds Nautiyal.
Rudraprayag-based farmer Bhupendra Bhandari believes he would now be relieved of the monkey menace and wild pigs that have damaged agriculture in the hills. “So many monkeys have come to the hills in recent years. Perhaps people from the plains drop them here. Can Modiji check this?” he asks.
Uttarakhand has consistently seen a higher percentage of women voters than men. One reason is because of the outstation posting of many men in the state, but as Nainital-based retired professor Uma Bhatt points: “Women have traditionally been stronger in Uttarakhand. They participated with great force in the statehood movement.”
Like previous elections, this year, the percentage of female voters was higher than male voters. Yet, the state elected just five women — Mamta Rakesh (Bhagwanpur), Meena Gangola (Gangolihat), Indira Hridayesh (Haldwani), Rekha Arya (Someshwar), Ritu Khanduri (Yamkeshwar).
“This state could not have been formed without the participation of women. Yet, successive governments have ignored their concerns,” Bhatt says.
Irrigation and focus on agriculture are major demands, as in its absence people are forced to migrate to the plains, and women are always the worst victims of such an exodus.
All these years, politicians frequently changed their colour, contested from several parties, pulled down their leaders. This affected governance and left the bureaucracy rudderless.
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