As Uttarakhand goes to the polls on Monday, it is important that as many people exercise their franchise as possible so that their choice becomes truly known. There will be seats that will be won with very narrow margins – there should be no regrets about not having cast one’s vote when it could have made the difference between victory and defeat for one’s preferred party or leader. The wrong choice can impact not just a particular constituency’s but also the entire state’s fortunes for the next five years and beyond.
As citizens of the country, people are required to have political opinions, too, and a vision for the nation. One cannot shirk this responsibility for any reason, least of all the cynical belief that one’s vote doesn’t matter, or that all politicians are crooks anyway. One must have one’s opinion known, even if it is by pressing the NOTA button. It sends the necessary and exact feedback to political parties and candidates about what is acceptable and what is not.
Has Uttarakhand progressed in its two decades plus of existence? It most certainly has. Can all parties be given equal credit for this? Not really. ND Tiwari’s term in office was remarkable for the beginnings that were made in numerous sectors of governance. The BJP under PM Modi has ensured that the state fits in with the larger vision for the nation. The income gap between the hills and the plains is being sought to be narrowed. Necessary services and facilities are being brought closer to the people.
At the same time, credit goes equally to the people for taking advantage of the opportunities provided, and improving their quality of life. They are excelling in the various sectors that have opened up locally and helping to build the economy. While local youth are progressing in the higher level of jobs, the state is also providing employment on a large scale to migrant labour from as far away as UP and Bihar. Entrepreneurship is catching on and, while it may not be at the desired scale, jobs are being generated as a result. The state’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis was better than most, despite some hiccups.
Most importantly, Uttarakhand has held on to its cosmopolitan and liberal culture. The credit for this goes to the high quality of education imparted in its institutions. Its new universities are rapidly raising their standards to match those elsewhere in the country and abroad. There is an aspirational culture among the youth that looks beyond just government jobs, which gives hope for the future. Hopefully, decisions for the future will be made keeping these facts in mind.