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If I were the chief minister: Dreams and hopes for 5 states

Five people from five poll-bound states speak about ideas, priorities and actions they would take if they were made the chief minister.

assembly elections Updated: Mar 10, 2017 07:41 IST
Chief minister,Assembly elections,Polls
Laxmi, a 26-year-old native of Delhi, was attacked with acid when she was 15. She is the director of Stop Acid Attacks.(HT Photo)

Five people from the five poll-bound states speak about ideas, priorities and actions they would take if they were made the chief minister. Here is a low-down on what they said.

Lin Laishram, Manipuri model and actress

Laishram is a Manipuri model and actress. She was born in Imphal, and is now based in Mumbai. Her most recent role was in the Hindi film Rangoon.

If I were the chief minister of Manipur, removing the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act will be my priority.

I will also focus on bringing peace to my state by ending fights between various ethnic groups. Such fights kill our productivity and creativity. I want less blockades, strikes, and ‘bandhs’ - these demonstrations waste more than 200 days each year.

Manipuri model and actress Lin Laishram. (HT Photo)

In Manipur, there’s no proper town planning, disaster management, or sanitation. This is something I notice every time I go home and see new buildings and malls cropping up without any planning. In April 2016, our lack of preparedness was obvious when an earthquake damaged many buildings.

Lots of artists have been doing good work in the Manipur film industry. As a movie buff, it is important to me that we nurture these talents.

Finally, I want to encourage our youth to participate more in decision-making. Manipur’s youth should be honest about what they want and work hard to get it.

We can be anything — an artist, politician or a filmmaker. Just be grounded, remember your roots and keep dreaming.

(As told to Utpal Parashar)

Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, former Indian footballer (Goa)

Sankhwalkar captained the Indian football team from 1983 to 1986, and won the Arjuna award in 1997.

If I were Goa’s chief minister, I would improve the health and sanitation facilities. It is very disappointing that Goa lacks medical facilities despite the state’s good socio-economic indicators. Even today, people rush to Maharashtra or Karnataka when they need emergency treatment.

We are a very small state with limited resources, so I want to strike a balance between development and preserving the environment. Over the years, the summers have become hotter and the beauty of the beaches has degraded immensely. I wish to focus on clean and efficient development.

Brahmanand Sankhwalkar. (HT Photo)

I will ensure that government servants and MLAs play a more active role in their respective departments and constituencies, and I would also enforce our traffic rules and regulations more rigorously.

Bringing more employment to the state, and building better sports infrastructure is also a priority. Goa doesn’t have any state-of-the-art sports facilities, so I wish to develop a hub to train young sportsmen as per national and international standards. This will give our youngsters a good chance to make their mark on the national stage.

(As told to Nida Khan)

Jubin Nautiyal, Bollywood singer (Uttarakhand)

Nautiyal is an Indian playback singer, born in Dehradun.

Uttarakhand is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. Sixteen years ago, it was carved out of Uttar Pradesh amidst hopes and dreams, but most of those dreams are yet to be realized.

If I were chief minister, my first priority would be to popularise “Brand Uttarakhand” by showcasing its unmatched natural splendor, vibrant culture, rich heritage, and quality produce like basmati rice, litchis, rajma and apples.

I have visited Switzerland and can proudly say that our mountains are far more spectacular. So why isn’t our state equally popular?

The answer lies in our failure to create adequate infrastructure for tourists. We need good quality roads, electricity, and running water, even in remote hillside villages.

The annual Char Dham Yatra pilgrimage - which attracts millions of tourists each year - is one of our greatest assets. I would hold small programs every night at all the tourist towns en route to the four shrines to illustrate our unique culture.

Besides tourism, I would prioritize transparent governance. Corruption has damaged the roots of our state from day one. I’ll set up three separate agencies to plan, execute, and monitor, projects. I’ll also introduce an anti-corruption mechanism in every department and reward people who report or expose corruption in the system.

Education is another priority. In the hills, many schools have no teachers, as they don’t want to serve in the remote areas. I’d introduce limited duration postings and provide facilities for teachers so that they’re encouraged to serve in such places.

(As told to Neha Pant)

Laxmi, acid attack survivor (Uttar Pradesh)

Laxmi, a 26-year-old native of Delhi, was attacked with acid when she was 15 by a 32-year-old man whom she refused to get married to. She is the director of Stop Acid Attacks.

No chief minister ever talks about women’s issues. If I become Chief Minister, I will work towards making Uttar Pradesh a safe haven for women, rather than treating safety as just an election issue that is put on the back burner after the polls.

Development is important, but no state can progress unless its women and children are happy and safe.

I am an acid attack survivor and have undergone seven surgeries. Every day, I see survivors struggling in the face of negligent doctors and lax hospital staff. Many succumb to this ordeal. For example, when an acid attack survivor Sunita recently met with an accident, she was shifted from one hospital to another, until she died due to the absence of proper treatment.

No matter how much we talk about free medical aid and high-tech hospitals, the ground reality is that the services in the state are pathetic. Ask any woman or girl, who has been wronged and had to seek police help; she will narrate the apathy faced by her.

Laxmi, acid attack survivor (HT Photo)

If I become the chief minister, I won’t just inaugurate hospitals and ambulances; I’ll pay surprise visits to see the actual state of affairs. I’ll also ensure that all ministers and officers visit government hospitals whenever they need any medical assistance. This will improve the quality of hospitals and also make doctors more accountable.

I have seen how victims of violence – both men and women - struggle to make ends meet. Acid attack victims have a tough life, and no proper rehabilitation programmes. They must undergo several surgeries, and need special facilities during travel. If our leaders can travel by aircrafts and luxury classes in trains, why shouldn’t acid attack survivors travel for free in air-conditioned railway coaches?

I will also try to get reservation in education and jobs for victims of of violence, and ensure these benefits reach their intended recipients.

This apart, I would focus on improving Uttar Pradesh’s roads, and making the state green and clean.

(As told to Richa Srivastava)

Sonu Sood, Actor (Punjab)

Sonu Sood is a film actor, model and producer who acts predominantly in Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil films. He was born in Moga,Punjab.

We take pride in calling it ‘Prosperous Punjab’ but the reality dawns on you only when you visit other places. If I were the chief minister of Punjab, the first thing I would do is improve my state’s infrastructure.

When I go to Gujarat and other states, I feel hurt that my state doesn’t have such roads and streetlights. Roads in Punjab are narrow and congested but elsewhere six-lane and four-lane roads are the norm. Look at the level of cleanliness in our villages and towns: Punjab scores poorly on that front too.

Education needs to be a top focus as well. My mother was a teacher and I know how the education system has crumbled in villages and small towns. It needs a dramatic improvement. And therein lies the panacea for many evils in Punjab.

Bollywood actor Sonu Sood. (HT Photo)

Our people have low education levels, so they don’t get good jobs; this creates its own problems. Joblessness is a serious concern. We need to get multinational companies to invest in our state. But for that we have to create the right kind of atmosphere---top infrastructure, and zero tolerance for crime and corruption.

In Punjab today, every youngster wants to go abroad and the reason is that there aren’t enough jobs. I would do what it takes to create jobs so that our youth isn’t tempted to look for options abroad.

The one thing that I miss in my state is the ‘gabru Punjab da’ (gabru means a very fit youngster). I keep reading and hearing about drugs ruining the youth of my state. This evil needs to be eradicated. I will deploy the best people for that, involve the best organisations, and make laws extremely strict to stop drug addiction. Then I will get my ‘gabru’ back.

(As told to Arvind Chhabra)