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Opportune Time

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It seems that the politicians of the opposition in Uttarakhand believe this is the appropriate time to begin preparations for the next assembly elections, seeing the pressure the Trivendra Singh Rawat Government is under at the present, both, internally and externally. The Corona Pandemic is on the rise, with the number of fatalities increasing. The counter-measures taken are middling at best, hampered not just due to lack of resources, but also indifferent management. The state’s economy is under enormous pressure because its primary sources of income, such as tourism and the hospitality sector are barely functional. It is only natural to expect growing resentment among the people, making it opportune to harvest it for political gain.

So, the occasion has been thought fit by AAP Supremo Arvind Kejriwal to announce that his party would contest the coming election in the state. He claims he is doing so at the request of the local people. Some may believe it is a bit early in the day, but considering the fact that the party barely has a cadre in Uttarakhand and mostly unknowns as leaders, it has a lot of work to get done. AAP thrives on class based resentment and could, perhaps, find a foothold in certain areas. Any kind of a big breakthrough, however, would be difficult to obtain. It might succeed, however, in denting the non-Hindutva votebank, which the Congress depends on.

There is maneuvering underway in the State Congress, also, with regard to who would lead the fight. There is the State Congress Committee, but it fails collectively to gather as many headlines as maverick ex-Chief Minister Harish Rawat. In the effort to project himself as non-partisan, he has declared he will not contest the election. (Who needs to when he can still become Chief Minister and contest later?) He claims his stint in power compares favourably with that of the present incumbent. And, for some time, now, he has been offering bait to those who defected from the Congress in the last election – that all could be forgiven.

The optimism in the opposition ranks also stems from the fact that there are stirrings of dissension within the ruling BJP, particularly among its MLAs. The denial of opportunity by keeping three Cabinet seats empty has been a sign of insecurity at the top. As also disrespect for the party’s legislators, presenting them as incapable of being ministers. Even last minute ‘adjustment’ will not satisfy the discontented. The sex-scandal involving an MLA has also broken out at this crucial time, with the party faltering in its response. So, at the present, it seems a close race for a majority. The BJP can hope that the AAP will be able to break away enough voters to keep the Congress out of power, but that will be small consolation for having frittered away a massive mandate!