The advent of the anticorruption movement on India’s political horizon, coupled with intense use of the internet in general and social networking sites in particular, has triggered great political interest amongst the youth, first-time voters especially. But despite their eagerness to vote, these electors are a confused lot in Amritsar as a personality cult at the local as well as the national level has eclipsed real issues.
The holy city’s youth who participated in HT’s agenda meet as part of the Young India Votes series, demanded substantial infrastructure, particularly roads, measures to ensure sanitation and promotion of tourism for Amritsar, and also security for women, steps to tackle the drug menace and improvement in the government’s education and health sectors. Concerns of the border area — lack of industry chief among them — also figured as priorities, while the quota system in education and jobs evoked mixed response here too.
ISSUES ON BACKBURNER
As tough as the ride along most of the broken boulevards here, is the question of choosing among the “tall leaders” in fray, Congress’ Capt Amarinder Singh and BJP’s Arun Jaitley. Even as their mudslinging at the cost of real issues evokes some irritation, the contest is between them essentially, say young voters too. The AAP’s Dr Daljit Singh gets respect, but votes are not so sure.
Despite promises by various governments, a number of important projects remain distant dreams, while the city lacks even the most basic of amenities. In the words of Aishwarya Talwar, a 19-year-old student, “Politicians come and stand on a broken stretch of the road to solicit votes with the promise that it will be repaired if they are elected. However, five years down the line, they stand on the same potholed road seeking votes with the same promise! It’s tragically funny.”
According to Nitin Mahajan, another 19-year-old first-time voter, “Issues remain on no one’s agenda. It is a personality cult that is dominating the scene, and harming politics.”
NOT CLEAR, YET
Issues that the participants expected politicians to raise included making Amritsar a tourist hub, dealing with insanitation and curbing the “goonda culture”. Some even listed “Sikh issues like the Anand Marriage Act” as an issue that needs discussion. Almost all participants wondered why the discourse was more about past events and cross-allegations without any direct promises.
“The youth depend on the internet to know agendas of the candidates in fray, as the other media is being misused by the politicians for mudslinging. Lately, even the Net has been usurped by them, not for discussing important issues but hurling abuses,” one said. “The words are colourful, but what beyond that?”