SHIMLA: The only Left-leaning MLA in Himachal Pradesh, Rakesh Singha, is going to villages to campaign for CPI(M). This year, CPI(M) has fielded 11 candidates. The Sunday Guardian talked to Singha regarding his election campaign and issues he is taking in the public. Excerpts:
Q: On what issues are you fighting this year’s Assembly elections?
A: Our campaign is focused on the repercussions of the neo-liberal policies of the government. These policies have increased the pain of the public. Water, electricity, health and horticulture are all prime issues. Today, apple farming is in crisis because the cost of production is rising and return is falling and the government has pulled its helping hands from the farmers.
Q: What are the problems you think the apple farmers are facing?
A: Production is in danger and it is falling. We are following old methods; new techniques should be introduced. Apple farming is the prime reason behind development in the upper hills. Currently, 10% (6 lakh hectares) of the state land is under cultivation and 1.30 hectares is under apple cultivation. We can’t neglect apple farmers.
Q: What are the projects you have asked from the government for development of the area?
A: This is the work of the government but, unfortunately, they can’t even handle the existing ones. The World Bank funded Rs 1,134 crore, and a horticulture project was launched, but both the World Bank and the state government have failed to bring results. We have small farmers with less than 1 acre of land and the World Bank should know that this project should be made according to ground reality. Water is always a serious issue. Traditional wazter sources should be saved. But the state government has no idea about the situation.
Kurpan-Sheelajaan, a NABARD-funded project, was brought in 2014 to bring water via gravity.
The earlier project was of around Rs 240 crore, but now, it has reached Rs 286 crore and Rs 200 crore has been sanctioned after my endeavour.
Q: What do you think about CPI(M) ‘s future in state politics?
A: We have a good future because the neo-liberal path has come to a dead end. The property of society can’t be owned by a single individual. To make a better system, we need a socialistic approach.
Q: Who is in competition with you on the Assembly seat?
A: People have to decide this. Last time, it was a direct competition between the Left and BJP. This time, eight people are competing, we can’t undermine anyone. There could also be tactical voting.