NEW DELHI: After Harish Rawat checkmated the BJP’s attempt to “dislodge” his government, the saffron party fears that the Uttarakhand chief minister may advance the elections in the state by a few months to ride on the sympathy factor. To counter Rawat, who has not shied away from invoking soft Hindutva to bloster his chances, BJP has planned a seriesof measures. BJP chief Amit Shah moved swiftly to announce Union Minister of Health J P Nadda and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan as election in-charges of the party’s Uttarakhand campaign on Wednesday. The BJP will also kickstart two yatras in the hilly state to attack Rawat’s “misrule”, a BJP general secretary told The Sunday Standard. Also on the cards is the preparation of a chargesheet and documents against Rawat, highlighting the “rampant corruption” in the state.
Sources said local BJP’s various units such as the youth, women and SC/STs will hold rallies in all the 70 Assembly constituencies. Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to travel in the state in the coming days to boost party’s campaign.
The BJP believes that Rawat needs to be countered on the issue of corruption as the state was feeling the brunt of his moves. Despite several corruption allegations and sting operations against him since May this year, the veteran Congressman has been acting astutely to keep public opinion on his side.
Moreover, Rawat has been actively invoking Hindu traditions and religious symbolism in his governance style as a counter to the BJP. From rebuilding the Kedarnath shrine to inviting the faithful to the Kumbh mela and even speaking in favour of the cow slaughter ban, Rawat has been active on issues dear to the BJP.
“Chances are he may hold elections earlier than the scheduled month of January next year, before anti-incumbency sets in. Moreover, the CM may not like to club elections in his state along with those in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, where polling will be held at the same time as the BJP is mounting an aggressive campaign there, which could affect the Congress in Uttarakhand,” a BJP leader said.
To counter the Congress government in Uttarakhand, Nadda and Pradhan are expected to bring all the warring state leaders on board and keep CM post claimants under check. Interestingly, Nadda’s ministry has hospital and oil exploration projects in the state, which will find appeal with locals.
In Uttarakhand, the BJP is yet to decide on a CM face for the state. This will be the fourth Assembly election in the state since it was formed in 2000. It has had seven chief ministers, of which four are politically active and claimants for the CM’s post—Bhagat Singh Koshyari, B C Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal and the recent inductee from the Congress, Vijay Bahuguna.