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Difficult Decision

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It was a difficult decision but the BJP chose to make incumbent Pushkar Singh Dhami the Chief Minister again. This is because there are complications involved – getting a seat vacated within six months by someone who has worked hard to win and then compensating that person adequately with another position. The choice also implies that none of the forty-seven elected BJP MLAs was fit to be chief minister. Some truly deserving candidates have probably been overlooked. Also, technically, there is no guarantee that he will win in the coming bypoll and that will put the party back at square one.

At the same time, however, the elections were fought under Dhami’s leadership and with the understanding that he would be the Chief Minister if the BJP came to power. There is no doubt that many who had doubts were convinced that he was suited for the job by Dhami’s performance during his brief stint in office. His brand positioning as the ‘younger brother with an affable nature’ set him apart from the other contenders, not just within his party but also outside it. The response to his continuing as Chief Minister has also been positive.

There is no doubt that it will be a tough task ahead for him. Uttarakhand may be economically a better off state as compared to before, but its management has become all that more difficult. The bureaucracy in all its manifestations is a law unto itself. Public resentment at its shortcomings is growing and it may not have been directed this time around at the political leadership but there will be no escaping the consequences in the future.

Dhami will also find that a cabinet selected on the basis of caste, region, gender and patronage, and not so much on ability, will be a liability. It is being claimed that ministers will be assessed on the basis of their performance but what about those who are proven non-performers? Many just make their way on the basis of their nuisance value, like Harak Singh Rawat in the past. The repeated overlooking of Munna Singh Chauhan is an example of talent being ignored for the sake of other considerations. It has to be made clear that nobody has a birthright to be in power. The willingness of the BJP High Command to change the leadership in the state actually stood it in good stead. There is no law that states a party’s stint in power is good if it does not axe non-performers. It’s what is delivered that eventually matters.