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Mystery Vacancies


Despite having handed out a number of ‘lal-batti’ posts to the party cadre, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat continues with two empty seats in his Cabinet. This is despite the fact that his government has been in office for almost two years. Is this because he is too insecure to have a full Cabinet; or are the posts being kept empty as carrots to keep the large number of legislators in line; or because there are no deserving candidates? This is particularly embarrassing because those suffering are mostly BJP legislators, while some might argue that deserters from the Congress have got more than their deserved share. (This has not kept at least one from boasting that he regularly conspires to upend incumbents and become Chief Minister, himself. Should it be considered a threat or a warning to the present incumbent?)
This is quite the opposite of the situation that existed before legislation capped the number of Cabinet posts which could be handed out. In a way, this legislation ought to be interpreted as a mandatory requirement, otherwise hypothetically speaking, what keeps Chief Ministers from keeping all the powers with themselves and appointing nobody else in the Cabinet? There have to be some very special reasons for violating sound political principles, as it could lead to serious repercussions.
Another obvious consequence of this is that parts of the state are being under-represented in the highest echelon of power. Which are these regions and for what reasons are they being denied a share in power? Is it that the legislators are themselves keeping each other from rising to the Cabinet? As the fable goes – in Kerala the crabs caught from the sea are put in boxes without any lids, because these creatures will never let another escape, even if it means they remain inside as well. Is there a crab-like mentality affecting the political process within the BJP and its Government in Uttarakhand?
Such arrangements are also indicative of a style of functioning in which preferential benefits are being handed out down the line. This leads to the inevitable development of coteries, undemocratic functioning and parallel structures. In India, this manifests as caste, regional and community based exclusion. Considering that the state is a stronghold of the BJP, it is hoped that the party will ensure no such processes take deeper hold in the crucial run up to the Lok Sabha elections.