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Dismal State

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The Trivendra Singh Rawat Government is celebrating having completed two and a half years in power or, at least, pretending to for the sake of the coming Panchayat Elections. It will, however, have a hard time convincing the people on the ground that there have been achievements worth celebrating. Having started off showing a bit of resolve in the face of early challenges, it has mostly let things drift since then. There has been the effort to replicate the showmanship of PM Narendra Modi with much touted events like the (already forgotten) Investors’ Summit, but there has been nothing like his dogged pursuit of goals and relentless hard work that ensures results. It is a time when Dengue has tremendously disrupted life in Uttarakhand, particularly Dehradun. The number of patients is not decreasing, with hospital wards overflowing. Deaths are continuing to occur on a regular basis. Now, Swine Flu is also reportedly knocking on the door. This does not just reflect the state of sanitation in the municipalities, but also the general lack of ‘seasonal’ preparedness by the Health Department. Even after Dengue struck, it took too much time for the government to respond. And when it came, the response has been unplanned, uncoordinated and ineffective. The Atal Ayushman Scheme that should have provided relief to the poor does not seem to be making a difference. But the grand announcements continue, as though those in power live in a different reality. There is no push, energy, or direction. The BJP does not care to ask how come the State Cabinet has had two vacancies (now three) through half the government’s term. Is it because there are no persons of talent in the 56 member parliamentary party? Are things going so efficiently that there is no need to fill the permitted number of ministerial posts? Or is it that the Chief Minister is too insecure to have other contenders in positions of power? Is he too arrogant to share power and function democratically, utilising the maximum number of human resources at his disposal? This is bound to have an impact on governance at the grassroots. Even those who are members of the Cabinet have been acting up, secure in the knowledge that the party and the Chief Minister are too weak to take note and respond. It would be extremely complacent to believe that the charisma of the Prime Minister and his fondness for Uttarakhand would help pull the party through something as local as panchayat elections. Even a lukewarm performance in these elections will encourage the discontented ones to create more trouble, which will escalate as the next two and a half years wind up. There is need for quick re-evaluation, as mere caste arithmetic and a perceived support base will not be enough to get through the coming tests.