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Hills have eyes on BJP

20 May, 2009 10:04:01 AM, Jagdish Bhatt



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Politics in Himachal Pradesh veers largely around regional faultlines that thread through the old and merged areas of the mountainous state. Caste has never been a factor in the elections here, and with only four seats to account for in the 543-member Lok Sabha, Himachal has remained a marginal player in the numbers game on the national stage.

The old areas comprise the hilly terrains which were part of Himachal prior to 1971, the year it was created, while the merged stretches include those incorporated into the state after the trifurcation of Punjab.

Traditionally, the former has been pro-Congress, and the latter pro-BJP. In fact, BJP and Congress leaders keep accusing each other of dividing the state along regional lines. Whenever Congress has come to power, BJP has accused it of diverting all development projects to old areas — primarily Sirmaur, Solan, Shimla, Kinnaur, and Lahaul Spiti. The charge has remained the same with change of guard: BJP leaders face allegations of attending to the merged areas comprising Una, Kangra, Hamirpur Bilaspur, and parts of Kullu.

For instance, the Congress regime announced support price for apples, a fruit grown primarily in the old areas, and denying the same benefit to fruit-growers elsewhere in HP. The allowance was rescinded when BJP’s Shanta Kumar formed the government in 1990.

The move set off a tidal wave of agitation in the apple belt and things reached a stage where police had to fire on demonstrators to quell the tumult in an otherwise peaceful land. Electoral trends have remained largely unchanged. In assembly elections, people have generally voted for the party in power at the Centre, and vice versa in Lok Sabha polls.

Most observers attribute this to the Himachal's dependence on the Centre for funds. The cash-starved state acutely needs aid to pay its large work force. One occasion when voters bucked the marked drift was in 1977, when Janata Party wave swept the country post-emergency.

This time, with BJP in power, political analysts are giving the saffron party three seats to Congress’s one. The lone seat for Congress is Shimla, the party’s pocket borough since 1952, when it was called Mahasu. It has thrown up surprises only twice: when Balak Ram Verma won during the ‘77 Janata wave, and Dhani Ram Shandil of Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) beat his opponent backed by NDA at the Centre and BJP-HVC alliance in the state in ‘99. Shandil remains a strong contender still, only he is now in Congress.

(Courtesy Times of India)

























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Sare Jahan Se Accha

Hindustan Hamara

In 1905 more than 100 years from today, when Iqbal was a lecturer at the Government College, Lahore he was invited by his student Lala Hardayal to preside over a function. Instead of making a speech, Iqbal sang Sare Jahan Se Accha Hindustan Hamara in his style. Iqbal compiled this poem in praise of India and the poem preaches the communal harmony that had unfortunately started ceasing in India by that time. Each and every word in this poem depicts an Indian’s respect and love for the motherland and the values the Indian society inherited for long...Read Full




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