By Arun Pratap Singh
DEHRADUN, 18 Jan: It is hardly three months left for the General Elections in the country, but in Uttarakhand, no serious exercise has been initiated by, either, the BJP or Congress so far. Of course, some programmes have been announced by both in preparation for the polls, but neither of the parties has started any serious ground work, so far. BJP President Amit Shah, expected to visit the state on 2 February, is scheduled to address party workers and leaders associated with Tehri and Haridwar parliamentary constituencies. However, down with swine flu and admitted in AIIMS, New Delhi, his visit has become a bit uncertain. Apart from that, BJP has been holding its usual booth level meetings being organised by district and mandal level committees. But apart from that, there is not much activity in the party at the state level. If the Amit Shah meeting had not been scheduled, it is doubtful if the party would have become geared up for the polls as yet.
BJP State President Ajay Bhatt, too, currently seems preparing more for the scheduled visit of Amit Shah and then a proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March rather than on galvanising the party cadres for the polls. The party also appears to be depending still on the Modi charisma and on recently announced populist measures and schemes like reservations for the Economically Weaker Sections and on Atal Ayushman Health Scheme. The fact, however, remains that having won all the five parliamentary seats in the past elections it only stands to lose rather than gain. However, it will be a high stake election at a personal level for Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, who has so far not been able to carry party’s senior leaders including his cabinet colleagues with him. That is also a big reason why he has not dared to expand his cabinet by filling the remaining two vacancies in these nineteen months of power, thus far!
The situation is much worse for the Congress. So far, it has merely announced state wide rallies from 21 January onwards by the name of Parivartan Yatra. Apart from this, there is no activity among Congress leaders towards preparations for the general polls. The only exceptions are perhaps those who are ticket aspirants for the Lok Sabha polls, for example, the party’s national general secretary, Harish Rawat, and Leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh. Rawat has been hosting ‘seasonal’ parties and the latest was held on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. This apart, he has also announced a dharna outside the Vidhan Sabha. Despite losing the Vidhan Sabha poll from Haridwar district, he remains keen to contest for the Lok Sabha polls from the Haridwar Lok Sabha constituency. However, he is banking on his own supporters rather than on the party cadre for his political activities in Uttarakhand!
So far, despite directions from the party High Command, the PCC has not been constituted. Though, after directions from the party High Command, State Chief Pritam Singh had claimed that the PCC would soon be constituted, but apart from one visit to New Delhi about a week ago and meeting the Central leadership of the party, Singh has done little else. However, he alone can’t be blamed for this delay. He had announced a smaller PCC but was openly opposed by his political mentor, Harish Rawat, as well as his predecessor Kishore Upadhyay. Since then, there is not much action from Singh in this regard. Party insiders claim that Singh was finding it tough to gain state-wide acceptance and remains still a Chakrata leader! It remains to be seen, how much advantage Congress can actually manage from a situation where it has only to gain and nothing to lose in the polls!