NEW DELHI: Uttarakhand is all set to enter into the election mode with fifth state assembly elections expected to be held in February or March 2022. The ruling BJP government has already seen three chief ministers in just 5-years which is enough to tell about the political instability prevalent in the state. The main opposition party, Congress will be fighting again under former Chief Minister Harish Rawat who himself is in a campaign mode and conducting visits across the state. The Aam Aadmi Party will also fight Uttarakhand elections for the first time, in several seats and may reduce the vote banks of its competitors.
So, what are the issues that would dominate the Uttarakhand elections rallies this year? Let’s take a look!
Uttarakhand Election Issues 2022
The issue of unemployment is one of the hottest topics in almost every part of the country. The unemployment rate in Uttarakhand has been one of the highest among all states. So, apparently, the youth would not be happy with this.
We have already seen people from all sections including engineers, teachers protesting in Dehradun for jobs. Recently, the government has announced some jobs and conducted some competitive exams but it is unlikely to make a big difference. The issue will nevertheless be one of the most trending topics of the election. The Aam Aadmi Party sees it as one big opportunity to set their Uttarakhand election campaign right. It has already promised 1 lakh jobs and an employment quota for youth.
The issue of migration has been there for years. The high unemployment rate has only increased the rate of migration. But, what is more, important is that the people in the state have now started identifying migration as a problem. And, the only reason for migration they understand is lack of employment opportunities.
It is also interesting that while we see people discussing the issue of migration in the state, the political parties are yet to accept it as a serious election issue.
Corruption and misgovernance are issues everywhere in the country. Uttarakhand also has this problem. Both leading parties, Congress and BJP have accused each other of indulging in corrupt practices. Misgovernance is one of the biggest impediments to the development of the state. The administrative issues, lax bureaucracy, and corruption in developmental works are issues that affect people in day-to-day matters.
The Khanan Mafias are very well organised in the state. Illegal, unauthorised unscientific mining can be seen in Haridwar, Ramanagar, Nainital, Almora, and other districts. Illegal mining not only affects the state’s ecology but is also a major field of corruption and affects the state’s revenue.
The lack of infrastructure is evident in almost all hilly areas of the state. In many villages, people can be seen traveling 10-25 km to connect themselves with the roads, markets, and hospitals. The lack of village connectivity is a big issue for many villagers who openly declare “No Road No Vote”. The lack of health care facilities, good government schools, water and electricity problems in villages and hilly areas affects the daily lives of the common people.
Environment and disasters:
Uttarakhand is one of the worst affected states when it comes to natural disasters. In recent times we have seen many disasters in both Garhwal and Kumaon regions. The most recent cases such as the Chamoli disaster and flood in the Kumaon region will be very fresh in the memories of the people going to the polls.
The state has a good disaster response team that works quite efficiently. But, the real problem lies with the handling of the disasters by the government authorities. In disaster-affected areas, people’s choices would also be governed by the government’s response towards the people at the time of disasters.
Due to COVID-19, the cost of several essential food items has increased in all parts of the country. Uttarakhand is no exception to this. People here are also unhappy with increasing prices of petrol, diesel, edible oil and other food items. With shrinking income during COVID-19, the people have faced a tough time managing their daily expenses. The Uttarakhand elections will therefore be an opportunity to raise the issue before their candidates.
Will a Hindu card work in Uttarakhand elections 2022?
Uttarakhand is a Hindu majority state and has a homogeneous population to a large extent. Around 80% of the population comes from Hindu religion. The religion-based politics may not work in the state even though it has been used by political parties in other states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. We may not see it becoming a very important issue.
National security as agenda for Uttarakhand 2022 elections?
Right-wing politicians are often accused of using national security as an agenda for election campaigns. We have seen this in state assembly elections in states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh (2017), and other big states. For Uttarakhand elections, it may not be a big election issue. The ultra-nationalist voters will always vote on such an agenda irrespective of time and place.