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What Changed?

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So, LS MP Tirath Singh Rawat is to be the new Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. As this was the result of a meeting that had the state’s BJP MLAs and MPs in attendance, it is expected that his appointment to the post was acceptable to all. Was there a consultative process adopted? Or, was it a firman handed down by the High Command that everybody is expected to follow? This matters if there is a genuine desire to resolve the dissent that has erupted in the party. If it is the former, then MLAs cannot later claim they are unhappy with the choice, as they were given the opportunity to have their say at the 10 March meeting. If it is the latter, then the problem has only been pushed down the line and will, very likely, erupt more explosively closer to election time.

Also, Tirath Singh Rawat is a Lok Sabha Member of Parliament and will be required to contest from an assembly constituency within the next six months. How will a seat be made available to him and will it be worth all the effort? The government at the Centre, too, will need a new MP and that will emerge as another bone of contention when the time comes. Or, is it that the assembly will be dissolved by that time? These are interesting questions for political analysts to answer.

Trivendra Singh Rawat has been basically accused of centralising power in his hands, allowing the bureaucracy to function in unbridled fashion, and denying MLAs the opportunity to participate in governance. How will Tirath Singh Rawat rectify this? Will he appoint a full-fledged Cabinet? What had kept his predecessor from doing so? Have those compulsions now disappeared? Will the new leader be able to take up the reins of governance and go into full action mode to the satisfaction of all?

In normal times, any party winning forty seats in the state assembly would be considered to have received a strong mandate. That would bring the BJP back to power, but the compulsion at the present is to repeat the overwhelming number of fifty-seven. That seems unlikely, which is why as many as seventeen BJP legislators can expect to lose. An even larger number will probably be denied the party ticket. With time running out, the pressure for them, now, is to make the most of the time in power. Any Chief Minister who is reluctant to allow feathering of the nests in various ways will become unpopular. It remains to be seen what special powers Tirath Singh Rawat has to deal with that situation. The best of luck to him!