For the leaders of the political parties in Himachal Pradesh year 2017 seems to be running fast as this being the year of two prestigious elections for this Hilly state. How is this that time runs faster? Scientifically it’s not possible but as regards socio-economic and political tasks, it seems that time left to accomplish all of them is not enough in this year. So as a saying ‘time runs faster’. Let’s take a look at the tasks which political parties have to accomplish during this year.
Already seven weeks of 2017 have passed. There were two major issues aired during this period. A big and new issue is of ‘second capital’ at Dharamshala as announced by the Chief of the popular government Virbhadra Singh, which has generated a sharp public, political and administrative debate in the state. Called as the political ‘master-stroke’ played by the Chief Minister, there is not enough time left before the assembly elections 2017 to accomplish this task and show real functioning of the ‘second capital’.
Virbhadra Singh is known for his paving new paths, despite his contradiction of the similar issues, so that there is no storm raising the damaging dust. Virbhadra Singh had in fact reversed the decision of even virtual creation of districts by the BJP government during the election year posting Additional Deputy Commissioners at Sarkaghat, Dehra, Karsog, Nurpur and Rohru. Singh also opposed creation of additional district units of Indian National Congress in Himachal Pradesh by state PPC president. However, acting differently, Virbhadra Singh suddenly announced in January this year Dharamshala as ‘second capital’ which created waves in all political circles including ruling congress. Socially this move did not attract much criticism from the masses but for regional biased ones, administrative experts are silent over this move as they must be awaiting for structure of the ‘second capital’.
During the January last, the state announced annual plan for 2017-18 of Rs 5,700 crore at the MLAs’ meeting held in Shimla. The plan for the next financial year is just over nine percent. The plan does not seem to be innovative enough, keeping in view the election year. However, chalking out the annual plan as had been done was a deviation from the convention chalked out by the NITI Ayog. Virbhadra Singh is known for implementing his own view point deviating from the Centre earlier, too. For example, his state government deviated from the five-day week, retirement age of 60 years and many others followed first time by the Union government when he was the chief minister.
Not much more happened in the past seven weeks in the New Year, but for administration preparing for the budget session of the legislative assembly beginning on March 1, next. The budget session of the legislative assembly will last till first week of April. Here, it is pertinent to note that the department of finance of the state government invited suggestions from the general public, elite and the experts to be filed till February 10. However, there was almost negligible response. The sustainable development experts are of the view that the administrative systems have not been recast or restructured either by the state and the central governments as per the fast changes in the socio-economic and environmental scenario.
Coming back to the timeline of the tasks ahead in Himachal Pradesh, six weeks of March and April will be consumed in budget session. What after that? The administration will be busy in allocation of budget and functioning for nearly a month and then again ‘recess’ in the most prestigious elections of Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) in May next. Deviating from the last elections of May 2012, this time the elections to the posts of Mayor and the Deputy Mayor will not be direct. The elected municipal councilors will elect them as per the amendment made in the SMC Act. All political parties will be involved during the SMC election.
From June onwards, the political parties will be involved in for preparing their ground for the legislative elections which are likely to be announced during October, giving the political parties and the ruling government a period of 16-18 weeks, before jumping directly in the elections. Therefore, not enough time is left for showing the results of new tasks.
Thus, the electorate will assess the working of all political leaders for the past four years as their choice or rejection.