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Where politicians pay the price of too much ‘accessibility’

Archana Phull | Shimla |

Personal expectations’ generally dominate the scene in the run up to the Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh. And for this, none other than the political leaders in the small hill state are to be blamed.

Unlike other states, people here have easy access to politicians, including ministers and the chief minister, that raises hopes of people.

In this well knit socio-political fabric in the hill state, which may have its own merits, the people involve leaders in the smallest of works and want every single work to be done and followed-up to their expectations. Willingly or unwillingly, the political leaders have to accommodate their wishes as a single ‘No’ makes them unpopular.

The state has over 49 lakh voters, with little less than half of them women.

Hill folks from every section of society are seen queuing up at homes and offices of politicians every morning with their applications for little-little works that could be done easily at official levels.

Besides, HP has over two-lakh government employees, who call the shots in every election for a formidable number of their votes, including those of their family members. They are the ones, who seek political push in every work, right from posting to promotion to other favours. More so, because such things, especially transfers and recruitments, are easily influenced by political recommendations in HP.

“What else can we do? If we don’t listen to the phones of people, we get so much negative publicity. We have to keep listening and we have to say ‘Yes’ we will try doing it. We have to be sweet to them even if we know that we can’t do that work,” said a senior MLA.

He quotes the example of former CM, Shanta Kumar, who, he said, used to honestly say ‘No’ to people on their face if he thought that the work cannot be done and suffered politically despite having remained a visionary leader.

There have been instances in HP in routine, where the highly performing MLAs in development work lost the polls just because of ‘arrogance’ or ‘high profile’ approach as it takes them away from the simpleton hill folks. “The politicians themselves are responsible for it. When they seek votes, they promise the people all these petty personal works. The voters obviously comes to them, seeking help when in trouble,” said some senior citizens.

“My long innings in politics has taught me that we should meet people, but we should not be too much deep into their routine problems that they start expecting everything from their MLA, minister or CM. Sometimes it becomes difficult for the leader to fulfil the expectation. He loses support then,” sums up a top politician in HP.