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Power Deficit

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Now that the elections to the municipalities are over, it is time for the Uttarakhand Government to get down to the nitty-gritty of its job. Attention needs to be paid to sundry issues such as the rise in heinous crimes, many of them not experienced in the state before, particularly the hills; the languishing state of health services; the failure to achieve goals in the education sectors; and, of course, industrial growth and employment generation. Unfortunately, it would seem that the power struggle, hitherto with the opposition parties, has metastasized within the ruling BJP and is taking up energy and attention.

The seeming difference of opinion between the Chief Minister and the State BJP Chief on the issue of Gairsain, much commented on by the media, would not have garnered so much interest had it not been for the undercurrent of tension developing within the party. It is strange that in a party that lays so much stress on being democratically run, the tendency in the present dispensation is to centralise power in a few hands. In fact, commentators are concerned that the actual shots are being called by only one junior minister apart from the Chief Minister, himself, in the Council of Ministers.

Apart from this, two posts in the Cabinet remain empty. This would imply that the party either does not have the necessary talent in its 57 legislators to fill even the minimum number of ministerial posts, or, the Chief Minister is too insecure to delegate power. There are also the usual political appointments in other bodies that need to be filled so that the aspirations of political activists can be met. Nothing has been done even as the TS Rawat ministry approaches the two-year mark in its tenure.

Apart from the fact that this approach deprives government of the necessary number of hands to deal with governance issues, it also narrows down the representation at the topmost level for the huge political mandate received in the assembly elections. In addition, there is also growing resentment among the senior members of the Cabinet for not being made part of crucial decision making and being denied the necessary autonomy to function. The electorate would be right in thinking that it gave the BJP the mandate, not any individual – as there was no chief ministerial candidate projected before the elections. There is little scope, therefore, for power to be personalised in the state.

It must also not be forgotten that long term BJP activists are more than miffed that, while the Congress rebels were given their share of the cake, they are continuing to be overlooked. Hopefully, the BJP High Command is aware of the developing situation and will take remedial measures, or a heavy price might end up being paid in 2019.

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