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Demolition Drive

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Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat, on Friday, dismissed a hundred odd political appointees (darjadharis), thereby continuing with the reversal of his predecessor Trivendra Singh Rawat’s policies. These actions indicate that the former CM had sort of gone rogue on the party, acting without the sanction of his colleagues and the High Command. All such actions have naturally met with the derision of the Congress, which is all set to take as much electoral advantage as possible. Despite that, Tirath Singh is persisting with his demolition drive.

The people’s opinion on this will become known in the Salt bypoll that is coming up, for which both major parties intend to bring out their best campaigners. The BJP’s tacit admission of failure will test its otherwise general popularity. It is also a fact that the present incumbent has had a pretty sketchy start, having become a metaphor for political gaffes almost in the Rahul Gandhi class. It raises doubts about how informed are his everyday administrative and policy decisions that are not visible to the general public and, particularly, the media.

It can be comfortably said that the BJP and the state are presently adrift in uncharted waters. It has the very immediate challenge of containing the Covid-19 surge and, at the instructions of the Centre, has already had to change the liberal stance taken by the new CM when he first took over. So, the commitment level becomes doubtful. Even earlier, the state was mostly chugging along and not quite riding high on path-breaking policy on economic and industrial development. In the period left before the next election, it is unlikely that anything spectacular will get done. Only populist measures can be expected such as the possible dismantling of the Devasthanam Board and some decision on the ‘Gairsain Commissionary’.

The only consolation is that it could have been much worse. Be it the present CM, or the one before him, they are nowhere in the class of corrupt and dynastic politicians that dominate so many of India’s states. The fact that their party exercises the power to change them when required serves as a bulwark against ego-centric behaviour. The basic problem the state has struggled with has been the lack of quality leadership, overall. There is also been the absence of a generally accepted philosophy of development. All these factors need to be remedied if Uttarakhand is to take the next step in realising its potential.