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Defectors’ Day

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With 28 January the last date for filing of nominations, party hopping has further accelerated in Uttarakhand – the latest being long-time Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist Kishore Upadhyay joining the BJP. In response, incumbent Tehri BJP MLA Dr Dhan Singh Negi, who apprehended being deprived the party ticket after Upadhyay’s induction, has jumped over to the Congress. Rajkumar Thukral is yet another BJP legislator to quit the party for being excluded from the candidates’ list. In the meanwhile, despite former CM Harish Rawat’s public image, he has had to once again hop constituencies – this time from Ramnagar to Lalkuan. It seems that despite his ‘stature’ in the party, nobody is willing to make way for him. It remains to be seen how welcome he will be in his new constituency.

All this action goes to show that party ideology matters very little for the state’s politicians. It not as if the individuals involved have made much of a lasting impact on public life – something in the way former CM ND Tiwari did. Yet, somehow, even long established parties believe that these persons have enough support to tilt elections in their respective constituencies. So high are the stakes that nobody seems willing to challenge this assumption. Defectors seem to have the state’s politics in a stranglehold. If the trend continues, it will be pointless for voters to choose one political manifesto over another.

And ideologies do matter, particularly with regard to the development agenda. It has been seen how the opposition whole-heartedly backed the agitation against agriculture reform with scant regard for the long-term repercussions. The same goes for those who have recently fired up the youth on the railway recruitment issue. It is bad enough to make false promises on providing government jobs; it is criminal to undermine the policies that would actually generate employment. It is on these issues that the distinction has to be made between parties. Economic growth does not take place by itself; it is the result of well-directed effort. Individuals asking for people’s votes should be able to articulate at least some of their ideas on this critical subject. Instead, it is just generalities being mouthed on outcomes rather than processes. People and the media should ask the right questions in the little time remaining before votes are cast so as to be better make up their minds. Elections have to be much more than the opportunity to provide sinecures to leaders’ sons, daughters and daughters-in-law!