When bigwigs migrate from hills to plains

Bharat Ratna recipient Govind Ballabh Pant, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna and Narayan Dutt Tiwari were the first to start this tradition.
Murli Manohar Joshi, Harish Rawat, Ajay Bhatt and Ramesh Pokhrial Nishank
Murli Manohar Joshi, Harish Rawat, Ajay Bhatt and Ramesh Pokhrial Nishank

DEHRADUN : In the hills of Uttarakhand, migration of people is the biggest obstacle in its development. Since hundreds of people have shifted to the plains in the last few years, politicians too are gone, leaving their constituencies in the remote hills.

At least six former chief ministers left their parliamentary and assembly constituencies along with other leaders and migrated to the state’s plains.

Formed more than 23 years ago as the 27th state of the country, Uttarakhand was supposed to amplify the demand for the representation from the hilly regions in the assembly and Parliament. After the Almora parliamentary seat was reserved in 2009 and the Haridwar seat was generalized, veteran leaders of Almora seat and Garhwal region had moved to Haridwar.

Bharat Ratna recipient Govind Ballabh Pant, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna and Narayan Dutt Tiwari were the first to start this tradition. BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi, Harish Rawat, Bachi Singh Rawat, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt are also on the list of migrants from the hills.

One of the prominent leaders in the hilly regions, Govind Ballabh Pant originally hailed from Almora district. He practised law in Ranikhet. After independence, in the first Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 1951, he contested from Bareilly. Despite being able to contest from Almora or Ranikhet, he became the first UP CM.

Speaking to this newspaper, analyst Anoop Nautiyal said: “Whether we view the migration as a challenging problem or an undeniable reality, the fact is that both leaders and residents have chosen to leave these areas.”

He said the trend is due to leaders’ predilection to stay in the plains. “It is difficult to garner people’s support in remote hilly areas. In the plains, it is easier to chart out one’s political career,” said Nautiyal.

Historian Jai Singh Rawat said the exodus from the hills has become common, with leaders also descending to the plains out of necessity. “It is a harsh reality. As flies are drawn to honey, individuals too shift to areas of perceived benefits.”

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