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The hills are alive with the sound of campaigning

April 26, 2014 22:02 IST

The hills are alive with the sound of campaigning

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Laxmi Negi in Pauri, Uttarakhand

In Uttarakhand villages, locals have no time for radio and newspapers seldom reach them.

But the voter is still aware, say villagers, and Narendra Modi seems to be the man of the moment. Rediff.com’s Laxmi Negi reports from Pauri, Uttarakhand

It is time the silent hills of Uttrakhand are ready to make some noise. After an initial lull, the campaign programmes are on course. As soon as the nominations were filed on the April 17, the air was abuzz with election energy.

The Bharatiya Janata Party seems to be the flavour of the season and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is the man of the moment.

BJP’s Uttrakhand vice president and election campaign convener Dhan Singh Rawat is confident that the BJP will taste victory.

He says, “The Congress has been a failure. Over 16,000 km roads were closed after the Badrinath tragedy. It has been a year and even the district magistrate cannot access Badrinath, so how can a common man go there?”

This is the main agenda of the opposition party in Uttrakhand.

Uttarakhand goes to polls on May 7.

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Image: The BJP is sure to win in the state, says BJP's VP of Uttarakhand unit Dhan Singh Rawat


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Laxmi Negi

The devastating floods causes by a cloudburst last July claimed more that 5,700 lives, according to figures provided by the Uttarakhand government.  

The BJP is banking on the failure of the party in power (Congress). It is not just the BJP workers saying so, but the common man echoes a similar sentiment. Some claim that they were always ‘Sangh’ men. 

A clerk working in the Chakisain Tehsil of Pauri district gives a clear indication. “There are jut two main parties in Uttrakhand, the BJP and the Congress. There is no room for a third party, for now,” he says hinting at the Aam Aadmi Party.

The villagers surrounded by the Himalayas find no novelty in flaunting the Gandhi topi. The people of Pauri district have been wearing the cap from time immemorial.

In the remote areas of Uttrakhand, the people who matter and are eligible to vote haven’t heard of the AAP. Only school-going kids were gathered around the AAP workers distributing 'goodies'. The children say they are aware of this “new party that is making news”.

Shyam Singh Rawat, a grampanchayat head, says, “There is a BJP wave in the state; it will win all the seats.”

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Image: A vehicle belonging to the local Congress unit is all set for campaigning


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And how is it that they’ve made this choice? “People mostly vote for the party or the candidate that distributes the most cash or alcohol. Credentials or intentions don’t matter,” says a local. 

Also, the only source of information in the hills is word of mouth. The hardworking locals have little time for radio. And newspapers do not reach villages on the outskirts. Political parties make the most out of this situation.

But Anand Bisht, a teacher from the Government Inter College, Gulyari, Dist Pauri, is confident that the voter from the hills cannot be fooled anymore. He points out that the “voter is aware” and will seldom speak his mind before the polls.

Here’s a state, where the panchayat elections are celebrated more than the general elections. Most of the districts haven’t seen landlines and have graduated to cellphones; where the inroads to the remote villages take more than 10 years to get a go ahead from the government and it takes yet another decade to construct tar roads.

It is one of the reasons that the villagers feel lack of connect with national leaders. They know no matter who comes to power they will be tilling their fields with inadequate facilities.

 

 


Image: The Congress failed to help people during the floods, says BJP
Photographs: Reuters

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