HP Elections: Make Shimla Liveable Again, Says former Deputy Mayor & CPM Candidate
Shimla: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [(CPI(M)] held another rally in Himachal Pradesh in support of former Deputy Mayor Tikender Singh Panwar, the party's electoral candidate for the Shimla (Urban) seat in the Shimla District.
The rally started at 11 a.m from the Panchayat Bhawan towards the main rally ground in Shimla. The party's General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury, took part in the rally along with state Secretary Onkar Shad, former Mayor of Shimla- Sanjay Chauhan, former National Secretary of Student's Federation of India (SFI) Vikram Singh, among others.
A huge number of supporters marched from the Panchayat Bhawan situated on the Cart Road in Shimla towards the Rally ground raising slogans against the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and raising anti-corruption slogans.
Former Mayor of Shimla Municipal Corporation, Sanjay Chauhan, appealed to the people present at the gathering to vote in support of the party candidate and show the door to anti-people policies formulated by the BJP in the last five years.
He especially highlighted the soaring inflation all over the country and blamed the saffron party- both at the Centre and in the state- as the primary cause. He also talked about corruption caused by the BJP in Shimla city concerning the funds that were supposed to be used for developing the constituency under the Smart City initiative, along with the government's apathy towards marginal sections of society and farmers in general.
Yechury addressed the rally and appealed to the masses to vote for their candidate and help strengthen the party's representatives in the Assembly so that people's issues are better represented in the Vidhan Sabha (state assembly). Taking a jibe at the "double engine" narrative of the BJP, he said, "For any machinery to function, even one engine is sufficient if it works efficiently. The double-engine government at the Centre and the state has only taken away from the people and the issues of Himachal Pradesh."
He also slammed the BJP for running an exorbitant election campaign at a time when 80 crore people in the country are surviving on free ration provided by the government.
"Where is the money coming from to keep your leaders air-borne all the time and hold endless roadshows and rallies? It's for the people to decide what kind of political culture they want in the state and the country," said Yechury.
Yechury further added that the much-talked-about New Pension Scheme was a brainchild of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, but it was met with strong criticism in the parliament by Left parties, and therefore the UPA was unable to implement it. He urged the public to vote out the BJP and send the Left's candidates to the Assembly so that people vote for candidates who can create pressure and challenge policies rationally so that they are in favour and in accordance with what the people want instead of favouring parties which support crony capitalism.
"People have seen the performance of our lone MLA, Rakesh Singha, in the last Assembly. If more Left MLAs are there, more forcefully public-oriented issues will be raised, and more people-friendly policies will be framed in the Assembly," said Yechury.
The MLA from the neighbouring Theog Constituency, Singha, also appealed to the masses via recorded message, which was played at the gathering. He said that Panwar, while holding the office of Deputy Mayor, not only prevented the privatisation of water resources but also sanctioned Shimla to be included in the Smart City project while the entire state government was focussing on just Dharamshala to be included.
Singha added that electing Panwar would help him raise issues in the Assembly as a 'team'.
Shimla City and The Left Alternative
Speaking at the rally, Panwar said that the city needed a change in leadership and representation if people wanted to save the city. Panwar believes that the current road to development is neither successful nor sustainable and will have adverse effects on the ecology of the tiny hill town and the residents- particularly the youth.
He accused the BJP of ruining the town's infrastructure, not maintaining the roads, and systematically destroying the town. He also highlighted the growing drug menace in the state, especially in Shimla city, which is a direct result of unemployment among youth and large-scale drug cartels being run by higher-ups in the government and the BJP and Congress.
The town was being kept out of the smart-city scheme by the former Virbhadra Singh Government during CPI(M) ruled Shimla MC tenure from 2012 to 2017. Following this, CPI(M) pleaded before the High court of Himachal Pradesh that an eminent town, the erstwhile British capital, was not included in the project by fudging the data. The court found the CPI(M) writ petition valid and ordered the state and Centre to conduct a fresh survey.
After that, Shimla was included in the smart-city scheme, and the town got Central government funding tune to Rs 3500 crore. However, Panwar said, "Since the present BJP government took charge of Shimla MC and state government after 2017, they have virtually made this project a den of corruption. Each component of the project was amended to favour the contractor and middleman, and the town was converted from heritage to steel and concrete jungle."
"Therefore, we need to make this town liveable again. The people of Shimla trusted us once. When we left, we left the corporation with nearly Rs 7000 crore, and it is not a small sum, but they have justified the money and benefitted themselves. This is why we need to come back. And to those who say we won't get funds, we will get enough. It just matters how we utilise those funds," he concluded.
Tikender Singh Panwar: Profile
Tikender Singh Panwar was born on December 10, 1971, in Shimla. He completed his primary and secondary education at St. Edward's School, Shimla, and his higher education at Himachal Pradesh University, where he was a member of SFI.
The CPI(M) fielded Panwar and was elected as the deputy mayor of Shimla in 2012, the first and last direct election for the post. As the Shimla deputy mayor, he initiated a hazard vulnerability risk assessment, a city resilience Index, a comprehensive mobility plan, a city sanitation plan, and the Smart City project.
The party has this time fielded its former deputy mayor as its candidate for the prestigious Shimla (Urban) seat, which the party had last won three decades ago in 1993 with Rakesh Singha as the candidate.
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