Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has returned to power in Uttarakhand with a facile victory, the assessment of its governance by voters was mixed and less emphatic. In the CSDS-Lokniti post-poll survey in the State, voters were asked to rate the work done on key governance parameters such as roads, electricity, water supply, health, and education. While the government was seen as having performed on the first three, it was on the issues of health and education that people were more likely to be critical.
On being asked whether the condition of roads in the State had improved or deteriorated in the last five years of the BJP government, three-fifths of voters answered in the affirmative. Their assessment of drinking water supply and power supply was even better, with close to three-fourths reporting an improvement. Voters in the Kumaon hills were, however, less impressed with respect to all the three parameters, especially with roads, as compared to voters in the Garhwal hills and the Maidan area. Nonetheless, they too were more likely to believe that things had improved rather than deteriorated.
However, when it came to assessing the condition of government schools and government hospitals, there was near unanimity across regions with more people stating that conditions had deteriorated. Farmers were also more likely to view their condition as having worsened rather than having improved. Interestingly, this pattern of bijli, sadak and paani (electricity, roads and water) being rated positively and shiksha (education), swasthya (good health) and farmers’ condition being rated negatively was also found by Lokniti in its survey in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
Like in U.P., seven of every 10 respondents (69%) in Uttarakhand were more likely to perceive that incidents of crime such as theft, rape and murder had decreased in their area. They were also more likely to perceive caste and religious tensions in their area as having decreased (62% and 64%, respectively). Muslims, however, were not as approving, especially on the issue of communal amity. Close to half of them (48%) reported an increase in religious tensions in their area. This is significant in the context of the hate speeches and calls for violence that were made by several Hindu religious leaders at a ‘Dharam Sansad’ organised in Haridwar in December 2021, just two months ahead of the elections. Clearly, the experiences and perceptions of Hindus and Muslims with respect to communal animosity were distinctly different in Uttarakhand.
Over four-fifths of Uttarakhandis felt that inflation and unemployment in their area had increased. Yet, this sentiment was not Uttarakhand-specific and was found in all other States as well. Corruption, too, was seen as having gone up, but this sentiment was also noticed across all States.
Shreyas Sardesai is with Lokniti-CSDS; Rakesh Negi is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Sringar, Uttarakhand