Young Himachal voters weigh ‘dictatorship’ versus ‘unstable coalition’ choice

Another first-time voter Nitish said, “I am in a dilemma to choose between dictatorship and a coalition,” apparently referring to the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and the INDIA bloc, respectively…reports Asian Lite News

Quality education, job opportunities and women security top the priorities of first-time voters in Himachal Pradesh. Some of them also see the polls as a choice between a “BJP dictatorship” and an “unstable coalition” represented by the INDIA bloc.

According to the data shared by the Election Commission, there are over 1.70 lakh voters across the state aged between 18 and 19 years who will be voting for the first time. Elections for the four Lok Sabha seats and six assembly bypolls will be held simultaneously on June 1.

The policies of successive governments to appease voters by doling freebies should be discontinued, says Riya, a first-time voter from Solan.

“The tax-paying middle class bears the burden of freebies and money for development projects is diverted,” she said.

Another first-time voter Nitish said, “I am in a dilemma to choose between dictatorship and a coalition,” apparently referring to the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and the INDIA bloc, respectively.

“It’s all about making my voice heard and advocating for positive change in the political landscape” he added.

Led by the Congress, the INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) bloc comprises 26 parties, including the Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena (UBT) and Trinamool Congress.

Rohit, a first-year student who will exercise his franchise for the first time said, “The BJP government has become arrogant, constitutional institutions are being misused and voting for Modi would imply (supporting) a dictatorial government. On the other hand, going in favour of INDIA bloc would mean (favouring) a coalition and unstable government, which is again not good for the country.” The performance of the past ten years of the BJP-led Central government evoked mixed response among the first-time voters with some lauding the tenure of the previous government, while others being critical of its functioning.

Anshul Thakur, a student of a journalism course in Government Post Graduation College, Sanjauli said she is excited to cast her first vote.

Thakur said she would vote for a party that is committed to bringing better job opportunities in government and private sectors and improving women safety.

Prikshit, a student of Government Post Graduation College, Chaura Maidan, said he is looking forward to being an entrepreneur and willing to explore the new era innovative sectors.

He said he would vote for party that is inclined towards new technologies and promoting the start-up culture with a focus on youth.

“As a first-time voter, I would like the government to work on the UCC (Uniform Civil Code) and education policies and focus on the states and places otherwise ignored by the government such as the country’s northeast region or Ladakh and include more culture-based services” said Vashisht Sharma, another student of PG College, Sanjauli.

There are also some first-time voters who said they would go with the NOTA (None of the Above) option to express their discontent with the candidates fielded by the political parties.

Aditi Thakur, a resident of Mandi who is set to cast her vote for the first time, said she will be opting for NOTA in the Lok Sabha elections, as she felt that none of the candidates met her expectations.

‘Centre did not fulfil demands of apple farmers’

Ahead of the seventh phase of elections on June 1 in Himachal Pradesh, the Congress and BJP are attacking each other. The issue of apple imports is also becoming important these days. The Congress party is attacking the central government for not increasing the import duty on apples.

The state vice president of the Congress party and the media advisor to the Chief Minister, Naresh Chauhan, said in a press conference in Shimla that apples have a huge contribution to the economy of Himachal and about three lakh families are directly connected with it.

“The Modi government did not fulfil the demand of the apple farmers to increase the import duty to 100 per cent. He had promised to increase it to 100 per cent in the elections, which he has not fulfilled in his ten-year tenure,” Chauhan said.

“The Congress government has always taken care of the interests of farmers and orchardists and we are continuously working for their development. We have fulfille demands in our 15 months tenure,” he added further.

Accusing the BJP of misleading the public, he said, “BJP does not have any issues in these elections and are misleading the public. They are diverting the attention of the public from the main issues. They have cheated every section of the society. Farmers had to do a huge movement to get their demands accepted”.

He also said that INDIA alliance government will be formed at the Centre after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

“The people of the country want to bring change in the Union government and this time the INDIA Alliance government will be formed at the Centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is supporting a few capitalists of the country and giving them benefits only,” he added further.

‘Modi is epicentre of corruption’

Earlier, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being the epicentre of corruption and claimed that all the corrupt leaders have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh’s Una, the Congress leader referred to PM Modi’s Friday speech in Mandi where he claimed that the state’s Congress government would not last and alleged that “PM Modi openly announced during his rallies that he would topple the Himachal Pradesh government through use of money.”

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the epicentre of corruption. All the corrupt leaders of the country have joined his party. There has been huge corruption in the Electrol Bond Scheme, why is the Central Government not revealing the names of those who donated? Through this scheme, donations have been taken from big companies by threatening them through ED and CBI,” Rahul Gandhi said.

He further took a jibe at PM Modi and said that while Modi has created 22 billionaires, they (Congress) would create crores of millionaires.

“A list of all poor people of the country will be made. The name of a woman from each family will be selected and on July 5, crores of women will get Rs 8,500 in their bank accounts. This amount will be deposited in the women’s account every month,” he said.

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