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Unpleasant Surprise

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The sudden visit by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, recently, to Yashpal Arya’s residence is explained now. It was probably a last attempt to pacify Arya, but it did not work. Arya, who holds the Bajpur seat, is back in the Congress, which he had similarly ditched before the last assembly election. He has taken his son Sanjiv, who represents the Nainital constituency, with him.

Yashpal Arya held pretty hefty portfolios like Transport, Excise, Social Welfare, Minorities Welfare, etc., in the Dhami Cabinet, so it is not that he was not given his due in the BJP. Also, those whom he had let down in the Congress, earlier, such as then Chief Minister Harish Rawat and present Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, did not look very pleased during his induction into the party in New Delhi on Monday. He must have been given some hefty assurances to have jumped ship once again.

Anyway, about time the BJP got a taste of its own medicine. Not only did it obtain an overwhelming majority in the previous election by welcoming a large number of Congress heavyweights into its fold, but had been chipping away since then by luring the likes of MLAs Preetam Singh Panwar, Rajkumar and Ram Singh Keda in its bid to get more than sixty seats in the seventy seat assembly.

It is true that the BJP, as is its wont, did not compromise with its fundamental ideology while accommodating the Congress inductees. This meant that, essentially, the top post was denied them despite their clout, ‘seniority’ and in the case of Harak Singh Rawat, nuisance value. Even inclusion in the higher echelons in the party is difficult to obtain – Vijay Bahuguna would vouch for that. After the next generation Pushkar Singh Dhami superseded the entire lot of senior leaders to become CM, it became amply clear what the ceiling is in the BJP. It is possible that some more among this disgruntled lot will be jumping ship in the days to come.

Yashpal Arya, who is now 69, is probably confident of retaining his Bajpur seat. If the Harish Rawat faction sincerely provides support, his son might also be able to hold Nainital. The interesting thing, though, is that such calisthenics are possible in Uttarakhand politics. What view the constituents of these seats take of these shenanigans remains to be seen. The BJP certainly does not seem to have made too much effort to hold Arya back, but it will have been jolted out of its complacency. There is a message in it somewhere for those who understand.