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Slender Lead

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The margin of victory for the BJP in the Pithoragarh bypoll is barely respectable (3267) and should serve as a warning that all is not entirely well for it in the state. Although the Congress has always been strong in Pithoragarh, in fact, the whole of Kumaon, the win was more or less expected owing to BJP’s use of the sympathy factor by fielding former incumbent the late Prakash Pant’s wife as its candidate. Anju Lunthi was a last minute contestant for the Congress, when more senior leaders backed out. Considering this, the margin should have been much bigger. That it was not indicates the voters’ mood remains volatile and if there is no improvement things could be different two years down the line. It must be said that the Congress continues to remain a player despite its decimation in the last assembly elections and the mass exodus of its second rung leaders. The reason for this is the inability of the BJP to firmly enough establish its ideological credentials in the quality of its governance. It is seen merely to be shifting around the furniture instead of making any real changes. It must be remembered in this context that sometimes the furniture gets broken in the process! If one examines the decisions taken by the State Cabinet at its meetings, so many have to do with just tweaking regulations concerning government employees or existing institutions. The latest is the decision to establish a shrine board for the Char Dhams and related shrines. Is the Chief Minister hoping to become some kind of a Pope by placing himself at its head? Will it be the new version of ‘Bolanda Badri’? No amount of ‘arrangements’ can consolidate power in a democratic set up. The latest example of this is what occurred in Maharashtra. The only way power can be maintained is through hardcore performance as visible in improved quality of life for the people. Even if this takes time, it should be obvious to the people that genuine efforts are being made and they should understand why. This requires communication skills, which going by present circumstances, seem only to exist with former CM Harish Rawat. And it should not be difficult for the BJP as PM Modi has laid the foundations of this. All the state leadership should do is be seen pursuing the objectives with vigour. That, unfortunately, is not the case right now.