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Here are the top issues facing Himachal voters ahead of polls

With just one one week left before parliamentary elections in Himachal Pradesh, political parties map the state and advocate for voters. The hill state has traditionally favored voting out incumbent parties.

This year, the ruling BJP, Congress, AAP and CPI(M) will compete for the 68 assembly seats. From political rallies to financial support, political parties leave no stone unturned to win over voters.

Let’s take a look at the key issues affecting voters during the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Polls on November 12.

Unemployment

The lack of jobs is a constant concern of Indian voters before the election. In the Hill State, the unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in September and 8.6 percent in October this year. This is above the national average of 7.6 percent, according to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), India Today reported.

Himachal has about 15 lakh unemployed, 8.77 lakh of whom have registered for job placement jobs, according to a survey, India today reported.

Agnipath Scheme

When protests erupted against the government’s recently launched Agnipath plan for recruiting into the country’s armed forces, Himachal Pradesh did not lag behind. There have been several protests across the state involving youth preparing to join defense services.

According to estimates, Himachal has about 2.8 lakh people who are currently in the defense services or have retired The Indian Express. Congress pledged Friday to provide 1 lakh jobs, restore the old pension system and provide financial aid of Rs 1,500 to every woman in Himachal Pradesh if voted to power in the upcoming Assembly polls. Youth unemployment makes this issue all the more important.

Issues of apple growers

While Jairam Thakur, the prime minister of Himachal Pradesh, believes the government has addressed apple growers’ issue over the increase in the goods and services tax (GST) and the payment of pending market intervention schemes, the mood in the sector is bleak.

Experts believe that that apple growers influence nine to ten assembly segments.

Many believe that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has neglected them and destroyed their profits by cutting subsidies on fungicides and other things and raising VAT on items essential to the industry.

An example of this is Pankaj Negi, also known as ‘Guru ji’ of the apple industry, who started growing apples 25 years ago. While he has voted for both Congress and the BJP in the past, now depending on the candidate, he hopes Congress will return and restart their subsidy.

Road infrastructure

The state’s difficult terrain means several regions have been cut off due to a lack of good road infrastructure. Better road connections have always been an important topic for voters.

Nearly 11,000 villages of the state’s 17,882 have good road networks, leaving at least 39 percent of villages with deficient road infrastructure, according to India Today.

How this makes voting difficult: In addition to their daily lives, this issue also makes voting a huge task. At an elevation of more than 15,000 feet to 93 voters who have to trudge 14 km to reach their nearest polling station, this issue makes voting difficult.

There are a total of 65 polling stations at an elevation of 10,000-12,000 ft while 20 are above 12,000 ft. Moreover, a total of 1.20 lakh voters are over 80 years old, including 1,181 persons who are over 100 years old.

Meanwhile, to win over Himachal voters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address rallies in the vote-bound state on Saturday. Today on Twitter, Prime Minister Modi said BJP goes to the people with a proven track record of development and emphasizes the pro-people efforts of the twin-engine governments. “I look forward to being in Himachal Pradesh tomorrow, November 5th. I would address rallies in Sundar Nagar and Solan. BJP Himachal goes to the people with a proven track record of development and emphasizes the pro-people efforts of the twin-engine governments,” he tweeted.

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