The bypoll in the Champawat assembly constituency is expected to get Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami elected to the House, the objective for which the sitting BJP MLA had tendered his resignation. It is not likely that the voters of Champawat will miss out on the opportunity to have the Chief Minister be their representative with all that it implies in terms of development. It has already been reported in GP that, till now, no representative from the constituency has even had a seat in the Council of Ministers.
An election victory will consolidate BJP’s position and establish a clear mandate for CM Dhami to take on the onerous responsibility of charting the course of the state’s progress. It will be by no means an easy task because the challenges are complex. In many ways the state remains ‘backward’ from the point of view of public services, particularly in the hills. At the same time, the necessary vision is needed to ensure that the aspirational energy of a burgeoning economy is channeled in the right direction, instead of becoming a challenge to the environment and quality of life. The two requirements will need to be reconciled by harnessing all the human resources available, within and outside the state.
There are certain principles of governance that the BJP can borrow from ancient India – the ruler must keep his or her eyes and ears close to the ground. It is a failure if the people’s needs are not anticipated and have to be raised before high authorities. Untimely deaths have to be prevented such as those in road mishaps, drowning, murders, for lack of medical attention, etc. Crime needs to be curtailed not just through good policing but also raising the morality of the people, particularly through personal example. Corruption has to be prevented through greater transparency and modern technology. Missions and objectives for administrators have to be clearly defined and performance judged on predetermined parameters. Initiative and honesty should be acknowledged and rewarded, not taken for granted.
In the meanwhile, all is not lost for the Congress. Even if it loses in Champawat, it should take heart from the votes it receives even in such an adverse situation. That would represent its core support to build on in times to come. Its flag-bearer in the contest, who has been willing to take on the BJP when stalwarts were reluctant, should not be forgotten when the situation is more favourable in the future.