The upcoming Himachal assembly elections may mean nothing to national media and its English speaking middle class clientele because the state itself is deemed politically insignificant since it contributes only four parliamentarians to the national kitty.
Moreover, the tiny geographical size coupled with communally homogeneous demographic profile also renders the hill province a non issue among our “national” leaders of so called national political parties.
The Delhi based media relishes communal controversies and sponsored PR campaigns of relatively bigger and vocal states, much more than the bland electoral fights in this zone of snow, forests, valleys, and plains. However, Himachal became a cool political laboratory for all sort of experimentation a long time ago.
RSS led Sangh parivar tested and perfected its concept of monolithic Hindutva in Himachal during eighties before exporting it to states like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh by silently organizing its cadres as a well oiled election machine. Similarly, the grand old Nehruvian Congress also tried and practiced the heady cocktail of its neo-liberal economic policies and electoral populism with such an ease during nineties that none of the media houses could sense the trend beforehand.
The low political cost of experimentation accrues to national political parties due to receptive, responsive but albeit docile populace of Himachal. The cause recent little media attention towards Himachal elections seems to be the very timing of elections just prior to great game of 2014.
In that sense, the elections to the Himachal Pradesh assembly assumes significance because BJP wishes to display its firm sway over voters before going lock, stock and barrel after its traditional electoral adversary in the depleted cow belt of India, whereas the Congress is hoping to apply power brakes to its downward slide on pan-India terrain by scoring a casual victory.
Apart from politics, the electoral battle should also be viewed from national environmental perspective because HP, J&K, Uttrakhand and erstwhile NEFA are regarded as green lungs of India which also vomit scarce natural resource like water from their respective ramparts along with fresh air and cheap hydropower. Therefore, owing to its hydro-power generation potential, Himachal Pradesh elections become an object of intense focus to the community called IPP (Independent Power Producers).
This factor alone has been responsible for massive flow of slush funds into election arena of Himachal because commercial fortunes of many a big industrial houses are obliquely interlinked to the local government and party forming the government in Himachal. Besides being a power producing backyard, Himachal Pradesh is also a core concern for mandarins of Home and Foreign ministries of India because of being a border state housing Tibetan refugees and their government in exile.
Refreshed Chinese incursions in Ladakh along with increase in antipathy towards Tibetan refugees among local populace should be a serious cause of concern to North and South block because Himachal constitutes two third portion of strategically important “chicken’s neck” which is so vital a gateway to any Chinese or Pak misadventure. Rapid depletion of land resources, increasing white collar unemployment due to slow industrialization and clever machinations of Chinese agents has sown the seeds of discord between indigenous inhabitants and Tibetan refugees.
And political activists with silent connivance of their respective political lords/sataraps, are actively fanning anti-Tibetan sentiments which may not bode well for the security of our western Himalayan borders. The Indian establishment of Delhi should urgently handle the silently churning anti-Tibetan unrest in the minds of Himachalis’ by sufficiently educating the political agents of all hues and every political party should be categorically warned to desist from fishing in troubled waters on this account because a few political formations are indirectly inciting their respective cadres to spread hatred towards Tibetan refugees.
It will not be an exaggeration to state that Tibetan refugees can become an electoral issue in future elections if steps are not taken to amicably address the apprehensions of local population.
Therefore, in the backdrop of above mentioned political, environmental, economic and strategic issues, the elections in Himachal are much more crucial to the health of the nation and everyone concerned should bring them on their radars including the mainstream as well as pink media of Delhi.