Tryst with democracy in HP: Back to basics
Himachal Pradesh

Tryst with democracy in HP: Back to basics

Agency News

Shimla, Apr 8: As the hill state heads for May 19 Lok Sabha polls, farmers, employees, urban residents and businessmen, aver that basic issues should be expeditiously addressed by the new government, whoever comes to power.

The people of this Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state feel that basic issues should not be overshadowed by national and emotional issues.
There are four Lok Sabha seats. BJP changed Kangra and Shimla sitting MPs after conducting survey of their prospects.Opposition Indian National Congress pitched candidates who could give a tough fight to BJP on all the four seats.

Ranjeet Singh Chauhan, a local resident, said the people of the hill state still await the fulfillment of the promises made during the 2017 assembly election canvassing. 'We are receiving very poor response from the voters during canvassing,' a leader of a political party told UNI.

Power projects
This hill state quenches the thirst and irrigates the fertile land of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and provides them uninterrupted hydro power from its Bhakra and Pong dams.
State is toiling with the emerging issues from power projects. It still faces the sore of rehabilitation and landless of its own people. The voice of thousands of families ousted by multi-power project and irrigation dams are hardly raised by the ruling BJP and Congress.
As many as 12,000 family members, who were evicted during construction of these mega projects are yet to find rehabilitation after five to six decades.They are refugees in their own state.

Kangra and Hamirpur parliamentary segments were most affected by the mega projects. BJP could not win the Dehra Assembly seat under the Hamirpur Parliamentary segment and people in 2017 assembly election voted in independent candidate Hoshiyar Singh defeating BJP former minister and former MLA Ravinder Singh Ravi who is close to incumbent MP Anurag Thakur.
Mr Thakur and Congress MPs could not resolve the issue of oustees of Pong and Kangra dams. They may have to answer this time while they go for canvassing as the incumbent MLA is trying to resolve and working on this issue actively.

Candidates of BJP and Congress in Kangra Parliamentary segment face similar issues. Pong Dam oustees are undergoing hardships. The most fertile land was submerged by the dam and people of Hamirpur and Kangra were forced to migrate to other states in search of refuge, jobs and other business activities. Incumbent Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur is an exception as he is giving patient hearing to this issue.

Missing in action
The state election is also dominated by the service and working classes employees and their dependents who want the solution of pension scheme to them as 80,000 employees are waging war for post retirement benefits and pension scheme.

Employees want old pension scheme which was withdrawn by the Centre and state governments. They oppose new pension and contributory scheme which has replaced it. Number of corporate retired employees from the state are fighting a legal battle in the court to restore old pension schemes and the matter is pending in the Supreme Court.

BJP had promised the solution of pension to employees in 2017 assembly election but could not move ahead on the issue so far. New Pension Scheme Employees Union General secretary Mr Naresh Sharma said that they are contemplating boycotting the election or press NOTA.

Then there is the problem of regularisation of jobs. Both the Congress and BJP during their successive rule are silent on the issue. At present, around 40,000 employees are rendering their services as outsourced workers who are hired through the contractors.

President of state outsource employees Mr Yashpal said that there are yet to make decision whom to support in the LS poll.

Barring the paramilitary forces around 2.50 lakh families of this hill state related to Indian armed forces as around 1.30 lakh ex servicemen belonged to this state and around 1.20 lakh are serving jawans and as many as 52 jawans were martyred during Kargil operation.

Since Independence, about 1,200 jawans from the state were martyred but their family members still wait for respect and identification.

There is no infrastructure to look after and assist the family members of martyrs, a large number who live in Kangra and Hamirpur districts.

During a public meeting at Kangra recently, AICC president Rahaul Gandhi made promise to give the status of martyr to jawan of Indian Paramilitary forces. Mr. Gandhi used this public meeting to counter the BJP move to get benefit of post Pulwama terror strike in Pakistan by making this promise

Congress Jan Chetna Rally was launched from Shimla recently by a wife of martyr Indian soldier in which was presided by the incumbent MLA from Solan and candidate of Shimla Lok Sabha Col. D.R. Shandil.

This hill state is seeking increase of quota of state youth after constituting a special unit in Indian Army to facilitate increase in army recruitment keeping high recritiable male population (RMP) of state in mind. This demand of state government was not met sofar.

Jawans from this hill state have been conferred with a large number of Param Veer Chakras. Youths of the state have sacrificed their life for the cause of nation in large number in the Indian Armed forces. After education, they prefer to join army having high RMP.

Rain Gods
State has about 9.60 lakh land holdings. About 9,45,892 farmers are marginal and small land holdings which is not sufficient to render the livelihood round the years and farmers have to engage them as agriculture and MGNREGA labourers.

State's 88 percent farmers own less than 12 bigha land holdings and only 12 pc farmers have more than 12 bigha of agriculture land.

Farmers in the state fall among the marginal and small peasants category. Their chance of good crop rest upon suitable weather and good rain as 80 per cent arable lands are rain-fed or without irrigation.

To double the income of farmers is distant dream and could not be possible under the prevailing circumstances and increasing pressure on the land holdings.

State has about 5.43 lakh hectare area under cultivation. Unfortunately, 80 percent arable lands are rain-fed and success of crops depends upon the good monsoon rainfall and perennial spell.
Under Pradhan MantrI Kisan Samman Yojana as many as six lakh, 95 thousand and 246 farmers applied in the state. About four lakh 37 thousand and 190 forms application were found eligible after scrutiny.

About three lakh 69 thousands and 650 farmers got Rs 2000 in their bank account.
The promise made by Mr Rahul Gandhi of minimum income scheme of Rs 70,000 has touched off a debate.

Atrocities against Dalits is a burning issue in the state as recent murder of Jindan a RTI activist created sensation. About 25.6 per cent population belonged to Scheduled Castes. Currently 2.27 lakh families are landless in the state which include 80 per cent Dalit . (UNI)