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Generation Next

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Why has there been so much surprise at Khatima MLA Pushkar Singh Dhami’s selection as Uttarakhand’s eleventh Chief Minister? There were reasons, earlier, for Tirath Singh Rawat being made CM. The same apply to Dhami. Having decided for yet unclear grounds to remove Trivendra Singh Rawat from the post, the substitute needed to be from the hard core of the BJP; especially because the rank and file had to be shown the party remains committed to its core values. Having inducted a large number of Congress defectors, it needs to be constantly established that there have been no compromises regarding the long term goals. Political opportunism may be necessary at times, but for the party’s own purposes, not for the advantage of individuals.

As Tirath Singh Rawat came up against a constitutional glitch, it was rightly thought better to end the crisis, immediately, particularly in the context of the coming electoral contest. The very reasons that Rawat was chosen apply also to Dhami. It underlines, once again, that the BJP is a cadre based party that rewards long service and dedication; and also makes the generational changes when required. These objectives have been met with the ‘young’ Dhami. In its 21st year, Uttarakhand has brought Generation Next to the fore, which augurs wonderfully well for the future of the state. There are already too many fossils in the political climate demanding their ‘rightful’ share because of their ‘seniority’. This change should bring a different perspective and approach to governance. The priorities will also be based on not just short term goals, but take into consideration long term objectives.

In the run up to the new CM’s swearing-in there was much speculation about dissatisfaction among the MLAs, particularly the ‘seniors’. This was probably to ensure there are no more ‘shocks’ regarding ministerial posts. Also, in the context of the coming elections, faction leaders need to communicate to their followings that their power has not eroded. The leaders have the ability to influence the selection of party candidates in several constituencies, which solidifies their own position and ensures committed followers. However, in a scenario where the elections are likely to be decided on the basis of PM Modi’s popularity, there is a limit to their nuisance value. The real cull will take place at election time and after, which is what the faction leaders dread and are preparing for. Balancing these issues will be Dhami’s challenge in the coming months.