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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 13:33 GMT
Uttaranchal: All in a name
Uttaranchal rally
Rallies in the state have attracted large crowds
By the BBC's Alok Joshi

The name of this new state is in itself a big issue.

Traditionally, this area has been known as Uttarakhand.

Local literature and folk-art reflect this.

And the campaign for the new state revolved around the name of Uttarakhand.

But since the central government is led by the BJP and the party governs the new state, it decided to name the state Uttaranchal when it was created in 2000.

But the locals want the name to be changed and the fascination with the name Uttarakhand could become a major issue in the elections.

State capital

Two other issues are dominating the state's main regions of Kumaon and Garhwal.

Voters are concerned about lack of development
The people of Kumaon are upset because their biggest town - Nanital - was ignored when choosing the new capital.

Dehradun was suggested by people in the Garhwal region.

When Dehradun became the capital, it was said that work would soon begin on a new town - named Chandranagar - as the permanent capital to try to appease both sides.

But this town never even figured in the list of prospective capitals drawn up by the government.

This is likely to be a hot topic in the elections - especially in Kumaon and even in some areas of Garhwal.

Controversial dam

But the Tehri dam - being built over the Bhagirathi River - is likely to be the hottest issue in the Garhwal region.

The dam has been at the centre of controversy ever since the project was announced. The dam is finally being constructed, but it remains shrouded in controversy.

People in the region have been complaining of miserly treatment since India's independence in 1947

The people of Tehri - the town which will be submerged under water once the project is completed - are still hopeful that construction can be stopped.

Environmentalists who consider the dam an ecological disaster support those who are promising to put a halt to construction.

But there are others who say the dam is a boon and a necessity for the development of the region.

A recent controversy surrounding coffins for the Indian army - in which it was alleged they were bought at highly-inflated prices - is also an issue for the people of Kumaon and Garhwal who have a tradition of seving in the armed forces.

Development hopes

Development of the region is another overall concern.

People in the region have been complaining of miserly treatment since India's independence in 1947.

This was one of the reasons why the demand for a separate state received overwhelming local support.

The creation of the new state has raised their expectations and they want to know what the political parties are proposing for the development of the region.

See also:

14 May 01 | South Asia
Congress triumph in Indian polls
14 Mar 01 | South Asia
Scandal threatens Indian coalition
11 Feb 02 | South Asia
Bollywood stars enliven Indian polls
07 Jan 02 | South Asia
Profile: Atal Behari Vajpayee
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