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Election Watch: In Uttarakhand, Voters Want Employment, Reduction In Inflation
Amid the elections, BW Businessworld went on the ground to know what the voters of Uttarakhand want
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In this era of COVID-19, the double engine government has given impetus to the development in Uttarakhand, taken care of the poor and made sure no one slept empty stomach, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his election rally at Rudrapur, Uttarakhand.
Modi was explaining the socio-economic development Uttarakhand witnessed under the current Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami regime and how the state government tackled the situation during the second wave of COVID-19.
However, the story of Harish Sahani, a 51 years old daily wage worker is totally different. He slept on an empty stomach many times during COVID-19 and has a loan of 3.5 lakh to repay, amid the rising inflation.
"During the second wave, I faced pressure to pay the rent when my income was almost zero. Even today, it's not like I have a big amount of money. It is not easy to live like that, we have to figure out every day how we are going to make money which will help us sustain. We want the government to reduce the inflation and give us an opportunity where we can earn a little more," said Sahani.
BW Businessworld talked to several daily wage workers, students, shop owners who said that inflation and unemployment are the two major issues, amid the Uttarakhand assembly elections. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains popular among voters.
Sahani who lives near Subhash Nagar, Dehradun said that his wife also works at several houses as domestic help, however, her earnings are also not enough as well. We both do our best to earn money so we can arrange food at the end of the day," an emotional Sahani said.
Slum and politics:
Around 8 KM drive from Transport Nagar, Dehradun, a 24 years old Ranjay Kumar Ram who lives in Bindal slum, has several complaints to make, however, there is no one to listen.
Ram, however, praised the BJP MLA, Khajan Das. Ram said, "Das has provided us with drinking water connection, lights in our small houses and we are very grateful for this. However, you know political leaders can not visit us every day, so there are several other things which we want authorities to fix."
The biggest problem the residents of Bindal slum face is the river that runs down between their homes. The river is toxic, dead and polluted and conditions during the monsoon become worse.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of students, many have dropped out, some are still struggling to manage online classes and cope with the financial crisis, post the pandemic.
"In the time of the Coronavirus pandemic, especially after the deadly second wave, Uttarakhand's medical infrastructure also needs improvement. Government should open more medical colleges and allot more post-graduate seats. Due to the lack of resources, it is hard for medical institutions to conduct research. Investigations and diagnostic labs are limited which government authorities should look into and try to fix it. New doctors (which will include us) need more opportunities," said Vishal Jaishkalyan, an MBBS student in Doon Medical College, Dehradun.
"I want to be an Engineer, but we do not have enough money to pursue the course, so I will be a businessman," said Vishan Kumar, 19 years old boy who is in 12th standard, studying science (Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics). Kumar has big dreams for himself and wants to be an Engineer, however, lack of money is pushing his dreams to the back seat.
Amid the elections, the expectations from the new government are high, especially among educated youth who want jobs and security. From health infrastructure to proper staff is the need of the hour as far as the medical sector if the state is concerned.
"One of the great problems in the medical system is a delay in credit of the salary of the doctors. Sometimes they get a salary even after 6 months. This not only demoralises the doctor but also doesn't lure more doctors to work. It becomes very difficult for a doctor with so much of a workload to thrive with this much late in the salary. More equipment for investigations should be present in a government hospital. It is very painful for the people of low socioeconomic status to pay a very high amount from their hard-earned money to private labs," said Naman Sati, a 3rd-year MBBS student at Government Doon Medical College, Dehradun.
The election fever is high in Uttarakhand, as every party is trying to make a clear future for themselves. Recently, Congress leader Harish Rawat described himself as a watchdog of democracy in Uttarakhand, while BJP is claiming as a people's party who had done so much for the state over the past few years.
Meanwhile, PM Modi in Almora said that the BJP is the only party that can ensure the development of Uttarakhand. However, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra slammed Modi and said he only works for his two industrialist friends.
Polling for the 70-member Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly started on February 14 and the results will be announced on March 10.