By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 4 Jun: Chief Minister and BJP candidate for Champawat byelection, Pushkar Singh Dhami managed to secure over 94 percent of total votes polled in the byelection which is a record in the state. The victory must have been somewhat a bitter-sweet experience for Dhami personally as he had lost his election from Khatima in the general assembly elections earlier this year. Ironically, the personal defeat was despite the fact that as a CM for past just six months, Dhami had managed to create history in Uttarakhand by ensuring for the first time that a party (BJP on this occasion) managed to retain power after the elections and that too quite comfortably.
Dhami was fortunate to have been renominated as CM, after the elections despite his personal defeat, by the BJP’s Central leadership, something that BJP under Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had never done before. Perhaps one factor was the fact that Dhami had been chosen to lead the state just a few months before the elections and that during this brief period of less than 6 months, he did manage to create positive image of himself and of the party. Being a young leader, the people of Uttarakhand did see in him a bigger leader in future with some vision and dynamism to lead the state to rapid progress and cleaner administration.
Hence, being fortunate enough to have been renominated as CM, Dhami has a rare opportunity to really take dynamic measures and decisions towards resolving some of the long pending issues related to the state. He is also fortunate enough to have guidance and support of the Centre to achieve this. As a matter of fact, Dhami on his part has shown dynamism and humility at the same time. This is besides the fact that he is presently considered to be more easily accessible to the common man and has been seen to easily mix with the people than most of his predecessors in Uttarakhand be it BC Khanduri, Vijay Bahuguna, Harish Rawat or Trivendra Singh Rawat. He has age too on his side and has the ability to learn fast.
His defeat from Khatima too must have given him a tough lesson to remember and he would be doing well not to forget it. Of course, sources claim that he has a tendency to be influenced by some of the officers considered to be his eyes and ears and he would do rather well to be cautious in this respect. Sources further claim that the tendency to divide the work load amongst the favourite and not so favourite officers rather unequally must go as this can cause a long term harm.
As a CM having huge support, blessings and guidance from the top leadership of the party that includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, he needs to focus on building the state and personally monitor the thrust areas and thrust schemes and projects on a regular basis. A historic win in Champawat byelection should give him confidence to lead the state and the party from the front. Chief ministers in Uttarakhand and many other states for past two decades or so have developed a tendency to mistrust own ministerial colleagues and divide the workload rather unequally. This needs to be mended. The hesitation on part of the then Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat in appointing a full council of ministers cost him dearly. Rawat was not the one to listen to his ministerial colleagues and paid the price of being a rather unpopular CM within his council of ministers. Dhami needs to avoid this weakness to take over and needs to allow his ministerial colleagues to be an asset to him rather than liability. He should make full use of their capabilities and not underutilise them or overburden them. Trivendra Singh Rawat held almost all the powerful portfolios including health, industry, PWD, Power, Home, with himself and was unfortunate to have lost one capable colleague Prakash Pant to cancer rather early into his term. Pant was one leader, who could tell his weaknesses on his face.
One would recall that under Trivendra Singh Rawat, the BJP Government had organised an investors’ summit in Dehradun in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. After that, it was claimed that investment to the tune of over 1.20 lakh crore had been promised in Uttarakhand. Several years down the line, most of that so called promised investment is nowhere to be seen! Who is to be blamed? The CM who also held the charge of the industry? The Secretary Industries and the red tapism (though single window clearance was promised). At that time too, industries were in charge of rather junior level IAS officer. Industries is one department that needs to be held by a dynamic IAS officer of the seniority of at least a Principal Secretary. Dhami should remember this as well!
Dhami would do well to emulate certain qualities of Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh who is known to be a man of action, who does not hesitate to take action on any issue and as a result, he does not depend much on the image of Modi and Amit Shah to govern the state and remain in power. A man of action is required in Uttarakhand and Dhami has this opportunity to be a man of action in Uttarakhand. His focus areas need to be health, education (especially school education in the hills), infrastructure, industry, tourism and energy sector. He has begun on a positive note and the people do expect him to lead the state aggressively and still remain accessible to the common man and be sensitive to their issues. It is a small state and here, easy accessibility is a prerequisite to popularity as a leader.
Photo Caption: BJP’s State General Secretary (Organisation), Ajaey Kumar welcomes Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami at BJP State Headquarters on Saturday.