Although the government has changed every time Uttarakhand has elected a new assembly since its formation in 2000, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hopes to reverse the trend.
The BJP is contesting the ballot, which will take place on February 14, under the leadership of young chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. Congress is pinning its hopes on veteran leader and former chief minister Harish Rawat, the party’s chief electoral strategist.
Elections for the assembly of 70 member states will not be an easy task for the BJP, political observers have said. There are a host of issues that call the party’s return to power into question – three chief ministers in one year, reaction from the community of priests to the formation of the Char Dham Council (recently suppressed in view of the elections), angst farmers in the Terai areas, and the mismanagement of the Kumbh Mela 2021, including a fake Covid test scam.
During the festival, around 9.1 million people took a holy bath in Haridwar, at least six million of them in April at the height of the devastating second wave of the pandemic. Officials in many northern Indian states have traced local outbreaks of infection to Kumbh pilgrims. The Uttarakhand High Court criticized the government for allowing the massive rally.
Politically, Congress has made the frequent change of prime ministers a major issue. One of his election slogans is Teen Tigada, Kaam Bigada, Uttarakhand Main Nahi Aayegi BJP Dobara (BJP messed up changing three chief ministers, he won’t come back to power). The state has seen 11 chief ministers in its 21 years of existence.
“It is like an insult to parliamentary tradition,” Rawat said. “The people of the state were not told why the chief ministers were changed.”
It started on March 9 last year, when Trivendra Singh Rawat resigned as chief minister, nine days before his government completed its four years in office. The development was sparked when a section of party MPs expressed resentment at Rawat’s style of operation, alleging that they had not been factored into many important decisions.
Tirath Singh Rawat was later chosen as chief minister, but stepped down within four months of a term filled with controversies and blunders. He was replaced by Pushkar Singh Dhami. The 45-year-old from Kumaon, who never even served as a minister before becoming chief minister, is now the face of the BJP to take on Harish Rawat.
The state’s youngest chief minister faces stiff resistance from parts of the party and people in other parts of the state, particularly Garhwal, political observers have said. During his tenure, party leader and cabinet minister Yashpal Arya joined Congress, and another minister, Harak Singh Rawat, made headlines following speculation he had quit the party since November. Dhami and Rawat both belong to the dominant Thakur caste in the state.
Congress said it would target the BJP government for the frequent changes of chief ministers, the bogus Covid-19 test scam, high unemployment, increased migration and poor health care.
As many as 700 villages in the state are deserted, and more than 3.83 lakh of people have left their villages in the 10 years leading up to 2018, half of them going in search of livelihoods. “We’ll tell people how the BJP looted them, and there hasn’t been any development in the state. Our campaign is centered on the utter failure of state government, ”said Harish Rawat, chief electoral strategist for Congress.
However, the big old party is riddled with internal strife and major feuds in the state. Rawat’s attempt to run for chief ministerial candidate has not been welcomed by many leaders, including Devendra Yadav, the head of the Indian Congressional committee for Uttarakhand. Opposition leader and former Uttarakhand congressman Pritam Singh openly opposed Harish Rawat on several issues.
Last month, Rawat tweeted that he did not gain party support during the campaign, after which all the top leaders were summoned to Delhi and invited to work together. The party has also decided not to declare any leaders as the chief ministerial candidate, congressional leaders familiar with developments have said. One camp supports Harish Rawat and Ganesh Godiyal, president of the state Congress, while another supports Pritam Singh and Devendra Yadav, party insiders said.
Despite the rhetoric on various issues, unemployment will be a major problem in elections, according to MM Semwal, professor of political science at Garhwal University.
“The BJP is trying to challenge the elections developmentally, but it will have to answer people on how many jobs have been created over the past five years,” Semwal said. “Other issues that will emerge as challenges before the BJP are poor connectivity and healthcare with a severe shortage of doctors and continued migration from the hills. “
The elections will carry on the tradition of Kumaon against Garhwal, with the main faces of Congress (ND Tiwari and Harish Rawat) coming from Kumaon, while the main faces of the BJP (Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Trivendra Singh Rawat) coming from Garhwal .
The 2022 elections are a must-see situation for Congress, as they were decimated in 2017, political analyst SMA Kazmi said.
“Congress has a lot at stake in this election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders regularly visit the state and announce various development projects, ”Kazmi said. “In contrast, few central congressional leaders have come to the state. Rahul Gandhi’s only public gathering cannot match the visits to the BJP pillars. Moreover, Congress is a divided house.
BJP state president Madan Kaushik exuded confidence his party would win more than 60 seats in the election. “Given the development work that our twin-engine government has undertaken over the past five years, the citizens of the state will place their trust in our party and we will win by an overwhelming majority,” he said. “We played on all fronts. “
Congressional vice president of state Suryakant Dhasmana, however, said residents of the state want change because this government has failed on most fronts. “There is no doubt that Congress will come to power with an overwhelming majority and start to tackle the main issues people face, including jobs, better connectivity and containing inflation,” a- he declared.