Uttarakhand: All Chief, no Indians

“Too many chiefs, not enough Indians” is  a phrase that aptly sums up the situation in Uttarakhand. Simply put, there are too many in people in line to lead but not enough willing to follow. In Uttarakhand today, there is no shortage of legislators aspiring to be Chief Minister. In a house of seventy legislators, there are many who covet this post. In a brief period of 16 years, the state has seen a change in the Chief Minister’s post on eight different occasions. Only one has completed a full tenure. Irrespective of any party, a Chief Minister’s tenure is often characterised by keeping the flock together. Suffice to say, the flock is not maintained by a strong leader. 

In Uttarakhand, the people elect their legislators, who in turn cannot choose their respective leaders. The irony is that the people expect these leaders to still deliver. Is this the kind of leadership the State deserves? Uttarakhand will know what leadership it gets on  March 28, 2016, when the no confidence motion against the Harish Rawat government is set to be tabled. This crisis has been necessitated by personal ambitions of the political class. 

With regards to governance, be it the Congress or BJP, it has been modest at best. Migration from the hills continue unabated, human development indices remain poor, and the State’s development track record has not improved since its creation.  Is this why the State was created?

Small states were carved out for administrative convenience, better delivery, and speedier progress. But the people are left with a new set of representatives with the same colonial mind set and poorer capabilities.

Earlier, politicians were less visible unlike now. This ipso facto  implies that their muscle men are closer than before, so the system of power and greed is more active. There is a simmering discontent in India. 

The signs are visible, and the political class is gradually bringing out its face of blatant power. A lathi-wielding politician was all about street power and muscle. This was earlier concealed but now it is out in the open.

The Shaktiman moment was used discretely by those in power to divert people’s attention from the hugely successful opposition party rally. Reams of papers used and thousands of sound bites delivered to artfully divert attention, from the simmering discord within the ruling party. 

It takes a scheming mind to do that. The rally had nearly been forgotten when the opposition found that the main issue had been diverted. Suffice to say, they struck back as per plan. Had the Shaktiman incident not occurred, the course of events would not have seen Congress dissidents shouting slogans against their own party, and their respective designs would have succeeded.  This clearly shows that both sides are capable of doing anything for power. As the saying goes, “all is fair in love and war”.

Why do we suddenly see the blatant use of power? There can be no single explanation. A word about the media - social or otherwise, media is omnipresent. With the number of tapes doctored, and sound bites challenged, the citizen has to make up his own mind.  Earlier, one could somewhat rely on the editorials to present a neutral view but gradually this too is becoming a luxury.  Seeing does not amount to believing and hearing cannot be trusted. The written word stands the test of posterity but everyone knows unofficially who is biased against whom.

Nationally Uttarakhand is known for its schools, religious and holy shrines, hill stations, and the gallant soldiers of Grahwal, Kumaon, and Gorkha regiments. It has also acquired a new high of naked political power and political instability, a contribution of our leaders. 

This is also Uttarakhand’s “que sera sera” moment as currently, whatever the future will be, it is not for its citizen to decide. It is just the lust for power that does not allow proper governance. The current CM of Uttarakhand is a seasoned politician, and the Congress party has been in power for long enough to satisfy everyone’s ego. Horse trading with lots of Holi colors will be the order of the day. The festival of Holi brings about a lot of bonhomie, so this could be one course.  There can also be the case of divide and rule, or carrot and stick. Whatever it is, Harish Rawat will do everything to seize power, and has the time and opportunity for it. If the government loses, will it allow others to function - a case of a dog in the manger?

But where does governance come in? Is it a secondary issue or is it the main issue?  If they devoted so much time and energy to governance, the small state could have checked migration from the hills and improved development.

(The writer is a retired Brigadier. Views expressed are strictly personal.)
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