Kerala

Western Ghats reports out of poll scene

Idukki is witnessing a polarisation based on political issues this time where as the Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports on the Western Ghats ruled the roost in the last local body elections.

General issues confronting the district have taken a back seat and issues such as corruption, gold smuggling case, narcotic case, and inquiries by Central agencies are being raised by the Left Democratic Front (LDF), United Democratic Front (UDF), and the National Democratic Alliance.

Those inimical to the Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports had a say in the last elections and the issue is conspicuous by its absence in election campaigns now.

The agitations against the Western Ghats reports were spearheaded by the High Range Samrakshana Samiti (HRSS), an umbrella organisation of various religions under the Church. The HRSS won the Lok Sabha election in 2014 and many grama panchayats in the high ranges in the 2015 polls in association with the LDF. Nearly 70 persons won in the local body elections riding the anti-Western Ghats campaigns last time.

“It is not only the HRSS but also the issues raised by it are absent in the election scene,” says a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“There was a consolidation of votes in polls till the last Lok Sabha elections under the anti-Gadgil/Kasturirangan campaigners, especially in the high ranges,” says Manojkumar, a businessman at Kattappana.

He says the Western Ghats reports or crisis in the farm sector have not been raised, instead the recent issues raised in the public realm are being discussed in political platforms. Generally, local issues come for discussions in the local body elections. However, such issues have failed to get attention in poll campaigns.

District Congress Committee president Ibrahimkutty Kallar says the Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports have lost relevance with the HRSS out of the poll scene. Moreover, when new issues come they will be naturally raised in campaigns.

According to an LDF election campaigner, the front is highlighting the welfare measures initiated by the State government during the pandemic outbreak and the steps taken to improve the living standards of the poor. The Western Ghats issue has no relevance in the local body elections now, he says.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 5:55:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/western-ghats-reports-out-of-poll-scene/article33260383.ece

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