What do we want from our leaders? The simple answer is vision and development. But what are we watching from our leaders, who are campaigning in Gujarat? Clearly, development is not on their agenda. The vision is missing. All they are talking during the campaign is who belongs to which religion; temple at Ayodhya or character assassination. To be honest, there is nothing in the campaign which can be described as remotely related with the daily ordeal the people of Gujarat are facing. This is not the story of Gujarat alone. It happens in every Indian state during elections. The politicians talk about those things which will bring votes for them, deliberately pushing issues like development to the back seat. As a result, the electorate has no other option but to remain at the receiving end all the time.
Keeping the tradition alive, during the campaigning in Gujarat no issues slightly related with the people were raised. Quite strangely, even no one from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dared to talk to about Gujarat Model. It has now been proved beyond doubt that if there is anything called Gujarat Model, it is only for the benefits of a handful few. With the help of so called Gujarat Model, they have amassed huge wealth, while people in general continue to suffer. Important sectors like agriculture, health, education all were neglected. Mortality rate of infants is one of the highest in Ahmadabad Civil Hospital, which is one of the biggest government hospitals in Asia. Nearly 50 per cent students studying in Eighth Standard could not read a paragraph in Gujarati, fluently, not to talk about their English-reading skill. Despite allocation of huge funds, government run educational institutions are in shambles. Teacher – student ratio in the state is pathetic to say the least. Numbers of educated unemployed youths in the state are on the rise. It has been noted in the recently published tri-monthly GDP Data that growth in agricultural sector is less than two per cent. So, it is easy to understand the plight of farmers of Gujarat. Since Independence the farmers of Gujarat are being assured of water from Narmada. But after seven decades of Independence, only three lakh hectares of land get Narmada water. It is still a long way to go to fulfil the original promise of irrigating the 18 lakh hectares of land with the help of Narmada water.
But, if the BJP is silent about the much touted Gujarat Model, opposition parties do not enhance its chances of doing well in the ensuing election by only attacking the ruling party for its failures, without projecting an alternative. Congress in its election manifesto has virtually promised the moon. Starting from reservations for the Patidars to waiver of farmer’s loan, everything got a place in the party’s manifesto. The party even promised to reduce the price of petroleum products by Rs. 10. But everyone knows that those promises will remain only on paper as the state has no fund to implement all the promises. Just to score over BJP, the opposition party pretended to adopt a philanthropic role. But one thing is sure. Election will come and go. Ordeal of the people will not come to an end.