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Faulty ‘Strategy’

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Many voters in Uttarakhand are inclined towards the BJP primarily because they wish to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his ‘nation-building’ agenda. Not wanting to weaken his support at the grassroots, they are willing to overlook state level and local shortcomings. Also, unlike his predecessors, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has succeeded in establishing a positive ‘youthful’ image in contrast with those lined up on the other side of the political fence.

It is at the individual constituency level that the BJP is vulnerable because of the indifferent performance of several legislators. Quite a few of these neither have an idea of how to support Modi’s agenda, nor their duties as an MLA. Since an overwhelming majority of them belonged to the BJP, there is little comparison to be made with the performance of those belonging to the opposition. Such non-performers have been denied the ticket by the party, but some still remain. It is at this level that the opposition parties must focus if the BJP’s dominance is to be challenged.

Despite this, the Congress is, instead, focusing on attacking PM Modi – almost obsessively by Rahul Gandhi. This is succeeding only in drawing attention away from the local failings that constituents may be concerned about. It is never good strategy to attack the enemy’s most powerful fortress; more successful is a focus on poorly held areas.

Sadly, an understanding of the state’s requirements is missing at the legislator level. Few have exhibited a comprehensive understanding of this in their legislative functioning or their ‘development’ efforts. This has required the ‘double-engine’ concept under which the bureaucracy worked to implement central schemes targeted at economic growth and social welfare. This becomes evident, for instance, from a recent complaint made by former BJP Minister and newly inducted Congress member Harak Singh Rawat that ‘he could not even employ a single chaprasi’. He was clearly clueless that employment generation is not possible, nor sustainable in the government sector, anymore.

In the case of other political parties, even pursuing centrally directed policies is not an option. If anything, the Congress ideology as articulated by its unquestioned leader, Rahul Gandhi, would completely undo the hard-earned gains of liberalisation and market-oriented growth. The people are aware of this and, hence, likely to overlook local shortcomings for the greater good. The BJP should focus more on this aspect instead of trying to replicate the polarisation being sought in neighbouring UP.