Dehradun: With the stupendous victory of AAP in Delhi assembly polls on a strong anti-corruption plank and a professed concern for the common man, the focus of most political parties in Uttarakhand seems to have shifted to the man on the street.
A slew of decisions and gestures by various political parties have reflected this renewed concern.
Be it the urgency displayed by state government’s decision to convene a special session of the state assembly later this month to pass a Lokayukta bill modelled on the Lokpal bill passed by Parliament, its decision to waive off the Mandi tax from over 40 fruits and vegetables to give relief to people from back-breaking prices or a former CM’s decision to remove red beacons from his official vehicles all of these were aimed at reaching out to the common man.
All of a sudden the political parties’ perception of issues like creation of a strong anti-corruption ombudsman, price-rise and prevailing VIP culture in politics seems to have undergone a sea change.
For instance, soon after the long-awaited Lokpal bill was passed by Parliament, the Bahuguna government, so far averse to the implementation of the Lokayukta Act passed by the state assembly during previous BJP government, suddenly changed tack and announced a special session of Uttarakhand Assembly from January 13 to pass a Lokayukta legislation modelled on the Centre’s Lokpal, apparently in a move to claim a moral high ground ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The message that went out was that the ruling Congress’ sudden advocacy of Lokayukta sprang from a realisation post Delhi polls that it could no longer play the politics of detachment and needed to associate itself with the causes affecting the common man including elimination of graft and restoration of probity in public life.
The state government announced a slew of sops for people on new year’s eve including waiver of the Mandi tax from a list of over 40 fruits and vegetables, a move likely to cause a drop of 6 to 8 per cent in their prices and give a big relief to the common man.
On January 2, the chief minister took a spin around the city along with senior officials at night to find out how the homeless were spending the cold winter nights out in the open.
Besides issuing immediate orders to the officials accompanying him to construct shelter homes for the homeless all over the state at the earliest, he distributed blankets among people sleeping on the city’s pavements.
Just a few days later, former BJP chief minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank had the red beacons and hooters removed from his two official vehicles in the light of a recent Supreme Court order restricting their use only by people occupying constitutional posts.
In his new year message, Bahuguna advocated a new work culture promising rewards to officials who perform and warning non-performers among them of stern action.
Though political parties shy away from admitting it is the “AAP effect”, deep down the factor seems to be at work.
“AAP has just begun its political journey. Saying that it has inspired an over 100-year-old party will be incorrect.
“But of course the recent Delhi poll verdict has shown that corruption and the woes of the common man like price rise are going to be big issues in the 2014 Lok sabha polls and we have to gear up for that,” a senior PCC functionary requesting anonymity said.