The BJP is beating the development drum this time more loudly to overcome many other hurdles besides anti-incumbency. While the party is claiming it is looking for a much bigger victory than in 2017, BJP observers are not too sure about it, reports Shishir Prashant.
Many factors are working against the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttarakhand before the assembly elections, which are slated for early next year.
The ubiquitous anti-incumbency remains at the top to unnerve the ruling party most. The fact is that both the BJP and its main rival, the Congress, have never retained power in the hill state since 2002, after the state was formed in 2000.
The BJP is beating the development drum this time more loudly to overcome many other hurdles besides anti-incumbency. While the party is claiming it is looking for a much bigger victory than in 2017, BJP observers are not too sure about it.
If Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami is straining every nerve to calm the frayed tempers of the Chardham temple priests, who are agitating in the Garhwal region against the government’s decision to set up a shrine board, the state BJP leaders are closely watching the developments after Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to withdraw the three farm laws.
Farmers in the plains of the hill state had been angry at these pieces of legislation.
Nevertheless, the BJP has chalked out a multi-pronged strategy. In 2017, the BJP had registered an unprecedented win, bagging 57 seats in the 70-member House, reducing the Congress to a paltry 11.
But since then, the political situation in Uttarakhand has drastically changed.
The rise in prices of essential commodities is surely disturbing the BJP leaders.
“This is not just a fight against the Congress. This is also a fight against many factors like price rise and agitations by farmers and priests, which are creating a major obstacle in our path to victory,” said a top BJP leader.
But Uttarakhand BJP president Madan Kaushik is confident of a big victory.
“We will win handsomely. Our main poll plank is the development work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the state government,” said Kaushik.
In addition to this, the party is focusing on booth management, he said.
Manveer Singh Chauhan, who is the BJP’s media-incharge, said the party had prepared a road map, adding the BJP made an organisational structure in such a way that all the 11,265 booths in the state would be covered.
“We will try our best to win elections at the booth level. If we win the booths, we will come back to power,” said Chauhan.
The BJP is banking heavily on the rallies of Modi, who will address at least seven. One will be in Dehradun for the Garhwal region and one in Haldwani for the Kumaon region.
The remaining five will be held in a way that each Lok Sabha constituency is covered.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP's national president JP Nadda will be on the stump too.
The BJP says 85 per cent of the promises in the manifesto of the last election have been fulfilled and the rest would be completed in two months.
“This is our major achievement and we will tell this to the electorate,” said Chauhan.
On the Gairsain issue, BJP said it had kept its promise to make the town the summer capital of the state.
Congress leader and former chief minister Harish Rawat, on the other hand, says the party would make Gairsain the full-time capital if voted to power.
State BJP vice-president Devendra Bhasin says the party is geared up to meet the challenge of the election.
“We are fighting mainly on the development issue with a slogan -- ghar, ghar Bhajpa, har ghar Bhajpa. We are focusing on our booths, for which panna pramukh teams are being set up.”
The party has also prepared booklets and published literature to showcase its development work.
The government has set up a committee to look into the Chardham board issue.
Significantly, an organisation of the Chardham priests has decided to contest election this time by fielding its own candidates.
The BJP has also said the government has paid Rs 245 crore as sugarcane dues.
Bhasin said the party is organising sammelans and street shows covering all the 70 constituencies.