How Uttarakhand finally broke the jinx of a fractured mandate

The people of the state are longing to see a stable and able government.

 |  3-minute read |   16-03-2017
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With the "double engine growth" of the BJP (same party rule at the Centre and the state) derailing the Congress, the state of Uttarakhand has finally broken the jinx of a fractured electoral mandate.

In the 2012 assembly elections, the Congress had won just one more seat than the BJP, but went on to form the government with support from independents. With eight chief ministers in 16 years, Uttarakhand is also known as one of the most unstable states.

While the people have pushed the Modi-led BJP to a well-deserved victory this time around, the Congress was forced to bite the dust with outgoing chief minister Harish Rawat losing from both the seats he contested — Haridwar Rural and Kitcha. 

bjp-body_031517091030.jpg It was largely an "issueless" election, where the Modi magic did the trick for the BJP.

To add insult to Congress's injury, party president Kishore Upadhyay met his waterloo in Sahaspur. Most of Rawat's ministers, including Dinesh Agarwal, Mantri Prasad Naithani and Surendra Negi, met a similar fate. 

It was largely an "issueless" election, where the Modi magic did the trick for the BJP. Also, the BJP's victory was made possible by Rawat with his alleged corruption and poor performance.

Even though the backroom whiz kid, Prashant Kishor (now literally a persona non grata for the Congress in Uttarakhand), managed to get a lot of support for the Congress on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, he failed to translate those "likes" into votes.

So, what really went wrong for Rawat and the Congress?

Firstly, the widespread allegations of corruption against the Rawat government provided enough ammunition to the BJP to romp home.

Rawat, who had already lost a number of Congress stalwarts to the BJP, suffered more setback during ticket distribution. Upset with not getting tickets, many quit the Congress and entered the fray as independents against their own party official nominees in nearly a dozen seats.

Also, the infamous sting video, which purportedly showed Rawat negotiating a deal to buy back support of disgruntled party MLAs at the time of political crisis in the state, had sealed his reputation not just as a corrupt leader, but a big time wheeler dealer.

As time progressed, voters also saw through the superficial schemes such as Hito Pahad and Mere Buzurg Mere Teerth. Although daily sound bites laced with earthy humour on TV did make headlines, all that failed to translate into votes. In the end, Rawat lost his throne to the BJP.

Even though he owned up responsibility for the party's dismal performance in the polls, his defeat in both the seats he contested clearly reflects the rejection of his leadership by the people.

With the BJP set to take over the reins of the state, voters are now expecting to see some "acche din" — if the party and its leaders will fulfil the development dreams that they promised during the poll campaign.

Issues like Gairsain (as permanent capital), the all-weather Char Dham road project, a rail line from Rishikesh to Karnprayag besides unemployment and lack of basic amenities will require some serious attention from the new government.

Simply put, the people of Uttarakhand are longing to see a stable and able government.

Also read: Exit polls 2017: BJP is forming the next government in Uttarakhand

Writer

Anoop Nautiyal Anoop Nautiyal @anoopnautiyal1

The author is founder-chairperson of Dehradun based think-tank, Gati Foundation.

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