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Verdict Time

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Uttarakhand will give its verdict on the performance of the Modi Government in the first phase of the ongoing, very tedious, General Election on Thursday. All those in the fray from the two national parties, except for one, are known faces about whom the voters are well-informed and there is little campaigning can do to help their prospects. As such, there is not much to choose between them, personally. The issue, as everybody knows, is larger. While there may be pockets in every constituency where voters may seek to make a statement with boycotts and such like, it is about who is going to be the country’s next Prime Minister. It is unlikely that someone is going to vote for or against Modi influenced by the choice of party candidate.
In the Haridwar seat alone is a substantial choice to be made on where the anti-Modi vote will go – the BSP or Congress. If such a division does take place, it is very likely that the Congress will be adversely impacted. In Pauri, the attempt to override the larger issue by making it about Maj Gen Khanduri’s political legacy has not exactly caught fire, simply because the BJP and Congress candidates are both legatees. In Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar, the Congress is banking upon the vast experience of former Chief Minister Harish Rawat to deliver the desired miracle. The battle of the Tamtas in Almora should be a tough one, while the one in Tehri is between two ‘dynasts’ pitting their traditional following against each other.
There is also the danger of internal sabotage, particularly in the traditional strongholds of the Congress. This is because the disaffection that brought down the Harish Rawat Government has not yet abated within the party, as steps have not been taken to deal with what caused it. The party High Command did not take advantage of the time it had between the Assembly and LS Elections to prepare the second rank of leadership. Instead, it has kept faith with the same old faces. In contrast, the BJP’s organisational structure is considerably more merit based. This should have an impact on ground conditions.
Interestingly, despite all the scurrying around, the media has been unable to project the mood of the people. It cannot be ineptitude and, probably, has more to do with ‘being objective’ and keeping the suspense going. However, this much is clear, if the turnout for Modi in Uttarakhand is as powerful as before, it will indicate the mood that exists in other parts of the country.