Creation of jobs, curbing corruption, a roadmap for development and voting for candidates with a clean image were the common refrain among students of Motiram Baburam (PG) College in Haldwani when Hindustan Times talked to them about the February 15 assembly elections in Uttarakhand, and sought to know their expectations from the new government.
The college, situated on the Nainital Road, is the biggest higher education institution in the Kumaon region with 13,500 students.
Students’ union president Neeraj Mehra wanted youths with a vision for development to enter politics. “The political system will get better when honest and hardworking youths enter this domain and work tirelessly for the uplift of people,” he said. “Students should not look at politics with disdain as it is a means for empowerment of the masses and a tool for development.”
Mahesh Dalakoti, an MA Hindi student, said creation of jobs would be a key poll issue for youths. “Degrees have become only showpieces; it is difficult to get jobs because of stiff competitions. The new government should open more institutions of excellence not only in cities such as Dehradun, but also in hill regions,” he said, urging youths to not vote on the basis of caste.
Chief minister Harish Rawat has on many occasions called Haldwani the economic capital of Uttarakhand. Around 1.5 lakh people earn their livelihood from quarrying on the Gola river, flowing near the city that connects the hills and the plains. But the city lacks institutions for higher and professional education.
The elections could be a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move, said Akshat Dhami, a BSc student. “Common people will show their approval or anger through the ballot.”
Dhami said, “The literacy level is good in Uttarakhand; even people residing in far-flung areas have sound knowledge of politics, and they will vote on issues related to development and current happenings.” He said he would vote for a candidate on the basis of his strengths, rather than a party.
“The country has seen Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption; parties should focus on weeding out corruption, rather than promising the moon to the electorate,” said Nidhi Mehra, a PG student.
“Youths are concerned about shrinking of job opportunities and parties promising more employment avenues will get good response from them,” she said, emphasising that honest people should enter the political arena to make elections free of money and muscle power.