MUSSOORIE: While the temperature in this hilly town remains chillingly low, the political temperature is soaring as the assembly elections are just less than a week away. People here feel that issues of parking and nationalism will echo in Mussoorie.
The New Indian team visited Mussoorrie and spoke to a host of locals and shopkeepers, who also highlighted that development needs to come to this tourist town with more focus on better medical services and education for local youths.
Speaking to The New Indian, in front of one of the oldest cinema theatres, ‘Picture Palace’, Jagdish Bhatt said, “Issue of development is first, then employment. This is not only a state election as the national issues will also dominate here.”
“As Mussoorie is an international tourist place, people are aware of all facts,” he added. He also said that the local issues of development are taken up by local municipal bodies.
“Parking is a big issue here as there are only four to five parking available for tourists. But in this election, issues of nationalism and Hinduism will dominate besides issues of development,” Bhatt stated.
Another local Mohan Bhadauria said, “Issues of development are going to remain. Due to COVID-19, two years were wasted but the government did a lot for the local people whether it was arranging ration and other needs.”
He said that as they are nationalists, their main issue in elections are “Hindudtva and nationalism”.
When asked that India being a secular nation, how only issue of Hindutva can rule the polls, Bhadauria said, “Can’t you see what is the condition of the country these days? A small incident is highlighted when it is done by us while they neglect when it done by other community. And are only Hindus responsible for upholding secularism? Isn’t it their responsibility too?”
Another local, Villu Valmiki, said that being a tourist place, this town faces parking issue as hundreds of vehicle come every day.
“Earlier, there was Congress rule and now BJP is in power. New parking has been built here. But both the governments have not done much. Go and see the condition of the two bus stands here. Both are in pathetic shape. Even SDM (Sub-Divisional Magistrate) doesn’t sits here regularly. He only comes here for three days a week, so the entire thing is in a mess,” Valmiki rued.
He added: “Even sitting MLA does not focuses on Mussoorie and we want that any government which comes to power must work for the development of the tourist town.”
Meanwhile, Rajani, who runs 70 years old book store – Cambridge Book Store – on The Mall road, said, “Common people have many issues. We want people to come here with proper precautions as this should not worsen the COVID situation here.”
She also said that due to vehicular traffic, the city is facing environmental issues. “We can see that the snowfall is happening in most of the hilly areas but not here as a number of vehicles are coming. Now the essence of Uttarakhand is losing as people are coming here and carrying out constructions in hilly areas which are affecting the environment,” she said.
“Om the way from Dehradun to Mussoorie, there are lot of constructions going on. Due to rampant construction and encroachment on forests, wild animals are entering into human habitats” she complained.
She even said that medical facilities need to be improved as patients are referred to Dehradun for better treatment.
Another resident, Dharampal said that medical facilities are not good here. “At the Civil hospital here, only normal treatment is provided. But in case of critical condition all patients are referred to Dehradun,” he said.
A young man named Pradeep Bhansola said that the government schools are not good enough. “Most of the people are forced to send their children to private schools. There are no proper facilities at government schools in villages. And one can imagine the condition as even the government school teachers send their kids to private schools,” he said.
He further stated that they hope any party that comes to power must focus on improving the education at government school and work for development.
He, however, admitted that in the BJP government in last five years a lot of work has been done, but a lot needs to be done yet.
A shopkeeper named, Sanjay Goel, who runs a shoe shop, said, “In the coming elections whoever comes to power must work for Mussoorie. In last two years due to COVID, we have faced a lot of setbacks but we want that whichever party, whether it the BJP or the Congress, should work for development of Mussoorie.”
“Mall road should be developed, roads should be developed. Roads from Dehradun to Mussoorie should be improved. Government must come forward to increase tourist spots other than Kempty Fall, Mussoorie Lake and Mall Road,” Goel added.
He also feels that both the Congress and the BJP have worked for the people. “The current sitting BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi has worked a lot for the town and he was available to people when called up,” Goel added.
Another local shopkeeper Ashok Agarwal said that everything is properly developed here, like water and sewer systems are in place. He said that the BJP government has worked really hard on vaccination drive.
When asked if he feels the BJP has done a lot of work for the state, he said, “No party has vision for Uttarakhand, whether it is the BJP or the Congress. They need to understand that being a tourist place they need to bring development which will stop migration of youths.”
“The government should develop Mussoorrie circuit so that people can go to a number of destinations in Mussoorie. There is no proper travelling service by the state government,” he added.
Another local shopkeeper at the Mall Road, Anubhav, who runs a Cafe and also provides scooters on rent said, “Mussoorie being a tourist hub is dependent on tourism. And during the two waves of COVID, our income was zero. After the vaccination drive, people started coming here but not as many footfalls as compared to pre-COVID times. The elections also slowed the tourism here.”
“Now economy is slow, development is slow, and elections are here. I feel that the BJP will come to power again here. But no one works here whether it is the BJP or the Congress. No changes have been seen here in last 10 years,” he rued.
He said that Muussorie needs development and the government must promote public-private partnership for development, so that tourists experience something new after coming here.
“Government need to support people to develop more tourist spots other than Kempty fall and Mussoorie Lake, so that more tourists come here,” Anubhav added.
Elections in Uttarakhand are scheduled on February 14 and counting of votes will take place on March 10. The ruling BJP is eyeing a second consecutive term, while the Congress is looking to make a comeback in the state.