The BJP is already in election mode for the Lok Sabha contest in 2024. Meetings are being held of public representatives with the party bosses and early assessment made of performance at the individual and state levels. As is its practice, the party is likely to drop non-performing MPs in the effort to stave off anti-incumbency, to bring in fresh blood and implement the policy of denying the ticket to those over seventy-five years of age. Going by these parameters, the Uttarakhand party unit is also going to feel the heat.
It is not just about who will be discarded – it also about who will take their place. Considering the fact that at least two MPs, possibly three, are going to be axed, this prospect is likely to spark off quite lively rivalries that will test even a ‘disciplined’ party like the BJP. In the two decades plus of its existence, Uttarakhand has provided enough opportunities to aspiring leaders to exhibit their talent. There has also been the tall poppy syndrome in action, making it difficult for certain bright sparks to rise to their true potential. The state’s relatively small size, perhaps, does not provide much space for an individual to make an impact. Some have been given the opportunity in higher positions at the state and central levels to exhibit their talent, but failed to take advantage.
The party will also be obtaining feedback on the issues that are likely to concern the voter in about a year’s time. The opposition’s strengths too need to be identified, and its ability to take advantage of public discontent. A narrative will need to be built that transcends ‘small’ concerns and provides a glimpse of substantive development in the future. Patriotism and nationalism works in Uttarakhand, but also in the mix may be issues such as the Uniform Civil Code, the anti-conversion law, etc. As such, the opposition, if it wants a chance to win, should be careful not to fall into the trap of seeming to be opposed to these ‘reforms’. On its part, it should be building an alternative narrative based on a genuine vision for the future, instead of a populist one.
The people, too, should have a clear understanding of what they want from their MPs based on the performances, thus far. Even those inclined towards the ruling party should provide input on their favoured individual. In some constituencies, be it of the state assembly or the Lok Sabha, voters have had to vote for candidates foisted on them by their preferred party. Everybody should understand, it cannot always be about voting for Modi.