‘City is royal, but only in perception’

  • Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: Apr 28, 2014 13:31 IST

Politicians’ ignorance towards conservation of the rich heritage and historical monuments of the ‘royal city’, to the lack of medical facilities and the poor civic conditions, remained hot topics of discussion during an interaction organised by Hindustan Times as part of the Young India Votes series, at Harpal Tiwana Centre of Performing Arts (HTCPA) here.

The city has been a bastion of the erstwhile royal family of Patiala. While ‘Maharaja’ Captain Amarinder Singh is an MLA from here, ‘Maharani’ Preneet Kaur is seeking the fourth consecutive Lok Sabha victory on Congress ticket.

But like the rest of Punjab, the scene here has become more interesting as the AAP’s Dr Dharamvira Gandhi has emerged as a contender besides the SAD’s Deepinder Singh Dhillon.

Many criticised the “‘royal’ fixation that blinds people to reality”, while there was strong feeling against the state’s SAD-BJP regime too. The AAP was seen as a long-term option, while many were impressed by its ideology.

As the discussion was focused on issues, the participants — students of different colleges — talked on slums, unsafe environment for women, and no industrial development.

As for heritage, participant Sandeep Saini said, “Lack of funds and futile assurances delayed the renovation of the Sheesh Mahal, while the Qila Mubarak needs immediate restoration as well.”

“If Rajasthan can conserve its heritage and promote tourism, why not governments in Punjab?” wondered Amarjit Singh. “The slums on the outskirts give a more appropriate picture of the city!”

Civic issues for med a large part of the argument, but may linked real development with quality education and jobs. “I am doing company secretary (CS) course but I literally have no job opportunity here,” said Jasguneet Kaur.

Her fellow CS student Payal suggested that “if politicians can’t ensure foreign investment, they should at least concentrate on developing small-scale industries and promote medium-level entrepreneurship in Patiala in order to create job opportunities for qualified professionals.”

Another commerce student, Madhavi Duggal, said the focus was all theory: “We have been available with best education institutions but there are hardly any public employment cells”.

MBBS students Harroop Singh and Archana Chaudhary said the gover nment should make concrete policies on providing better infrastructure and facilities to doctors “not only during their posting but in medical colleges also”.

“All these well-entrenched politicians and the police always have enough information regarding where these drugs come from, and where they go!” said Varinder Singh, a commerce student.

“Is it a coincidence that the flow of drugs and alcohol shoots up manifold during election period?”

Going beyond it and mentioning personal examples, he said, “People have a wrong perception that only the youth in villages is high on drugs. The reality is that acute frustration among unemployed qualified youth has made them drug addicts too.”

Gagandeep Singh added, “The severity can be gauged from the fact that people have started demanding official poppy husk vends.”

Coming to the faces of polls, the students termed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi as “an immature leader” and also found him wanting in the oratory department.

While BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was seen as an impressive orator, most students termed him “communal” and “self-obsessed”.

Gujarat riots came up as an issue. “No matter if an investigation team or whoever gave the clean chit to Modi in the 2002 riots, everyone knows the truth. The tag of being communal will always remain,” remarked Varinder.

On the SAD candidate Deepinder Singh Dhillon, Sandeep said, “Dhillon is an outsider here, and does not know about basic issues of Patiala as a whole.” Gagandeep added that Dhillon had tasted defeat in the assembly elections, “therefore he can be put in the list of inexperienced, losing politicians too”.

About the AAP candidate, commerce student Yogita Saldi praised him for his philanthropist attitude as a surgeon, but there were voices about him being a “novice” in politics.

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