Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami seems to be delivering for the BJP in the context of preparing for the coming assembly elections. So far, he has not put a foot wrong, be it in public relations, governance, or political management. He has built up his profile as a ‘young’ and amiable Chief Minister. Also, he does not have baggage in terms of past failures, which the older generation of politicians does in the state. If he continues like this, the BJP will maintain its lead and considerably overcome the usual anti-incumbency factor. The opposition will have to revisit its approach as the playing conditions have changed considerably.
On the other hand, the dependence of the main opposition party, the Congress, on the same old faces, in particularly ‘stalwart’ Harish Rawat, is rapidly coming a cropper. The means being used to stay in the limelight through social media are, more often than not, receiving negative feedback. Be it portraying the new State Party President, Ganesh Godiyal as ‘Ganesh’ on posters, to his infamous ‘Panj Pyara’ comment, Rawat has strayed into areas that are potential minefields in Indian politics – religious symbolism. His involvement in the mishandling of affairs by the party in Punjab has not brought him any glory, either.
In the bid to play the politics of personalities, newbie AAP has also sought to make comparisons between the Chief Minister and retired Colonel Ajay Kothiyal, suggesting that only gallantry award winners are ‘desh-bhakts’ and presenting politicians in a derogatory way as ‘netas’. Ironically, the people can see that the officer in question is actually hoping to morph into a neta, himself. Playing politics in the belief that the public is intellectually challenged is a serious gamble, particularly in a state like Uttarakhand.
Traditionally, every ‘other’ party has been given a chance in Uttarakhand, be it the UKD, BSP, even the SP and SAD, but what it does after gaining a foothold has been important. The representatives of each have compromised for short-term gains and lost public support. It is ideological clarity that is required and AAP will have to communicate that rather than indulging in character subversion. Kothiyal being a ‘veteran’ could impact one section of BJP’s core support, the ex-servicemen, but to be a contender, he will have to break into the anti-BJP votebank. That would end up damaging the Congress. They greatly needed a blundering Chief Minister and Dhami is not delivering on that.