BJP’s Trivendra Singh Rawat was surely a big failure as a CM and made many poor decisions, such as gaining control over temples, Gairsain issue, too much autoerotism etc. Gairsain, a tehsil in Chamoli district, is located nearly 270-km from the existing temporary capital of Dehradun.
Even when Uttarakhand was carved out as a separate state from Uttar Pradesh on November 9, 2000, statehood activists had contended that Gairsain was best suited to be the capital of the mountainous state since it was between both Kumaon and Garhwal regions. But it was Dehradun in the plains that were named the temporary capital. Since then, Gairsain played a crucial role in electoral politics. Trivendra Singh Rawat wasted the mandate of the people and was later on replaced by Tirath Singh Rawat. Though Rawat has found himself in a series of controversial annotations, he has made some good decisions such as freeing temples— which can attract core Hindu voter’s base as well as reversing the decision to make Garsain an administrative division.
The Garsain issue had transformed into a huge cultural issue. Uttarakhand is divided into two major regions- Kumaon and Garhwal. Trivendra Rawat created a new division- Garsain and in the process, he removed Almora from Kumaon and added it to the new region. This had drawn sharp opposition from all as Almora is the heart of Kumaon. Also, Trivendra Rawat had completely neglected Kumaon and most of his ministers were Garhwalis. But, Tirath Rawat has shared equal ministries between MLAs from the two regions, but none of them ever stayed connected with voters.
The discontent among BJP MLAs and local people is a major concern. Policy failures made people’s lives miserable. After the second wave of COVID, the state has miserably failed to provide aid to people. No BJP politicians were available for people, since Congress being on the ground took the situation to their advantage by helping people. Petrol price will remain the highest concern as Uttarakhand is hugely a tourist destination. Currently, there are chances of a 6% swing vote. Swing vote means that the vote can go to any party; depending on the situation like anti-incumbency, pro-incumbency etc. let’s say that the complete swing vote goes against the BJP because of anti-incumbency.
So, in the general case, most of the votes will go to Congress i.e. BJP’s loss would be Congress’ gain. But here comes AAP hoping to get some crucial votes. So, the BJP vote slips to 40%. Now, where will the 6% swing vote go? If AAP and BSP, along with independent candidates manage to get this swing vote, then the BJP, despite a massive loss of vote share, can retain power with a small majority. Even 500–1000 votes here and there in small states like Uttarakhand can make a huge difference, especially during such crucial elections.
Another reason why BJP can benefit is factionalism in Congress. There is serious infighting plus if Harish Rawat is not declared Congress CM candidate, then I don’t think Congress has any chance to win the election. Harish Rawat of Congress (former CM) is a household name in Uttarakhand, his last tenure as CM was filled with a lot of mishaps, most famous being his alleged sting operation where he is supposedly giving a bribe (the authenticity of the video has never been confirmed, and the sting operation guy himself went to jail afterwards in a blackmailing case). But no matter what, the image which he once had was kind of tainted with that sting episode. Apart from Harish Rawat, congress cannot boast of any other leader right now who enjoys a mass following.
BJP, even with all the mishandling and lack of job creation in the last 4.5 years, might be able to get some breather, since Narendra Modi enjoys a good following in the hills. But AAP is also going to fight elections, which might make the 2022 elections more interesting and difficult to predict. Again, lack of local leadership will hugely affect AAP’S chances of being a genuine contender to form a government. BJP to get a majority but the number of seats they win will take a hit from the last elections.
Arvind Kejriwal has announced some lucrative things for the unemployed, like 5000 per month and the creation of around 1 lakh new jobs. This will certainly swing some core voters of BJP and Congress towards AAP, but only in urban areas like Dehradun, Haridwar, and Haldwani. The rural areas are still most likely to choose either BJP or Congress (more likely BJP and Congress). However, if AAP manages to secure 15–20 per cent votes, can end up becoming the 2nd party in many urban areas.
The Modi wave is not as strong as it was in 2017, so the election results might be down to the performance of the local govt only, with no influence from the central ministers of BJP. Above all social media is playing a very important role nowadays in elections; right now, Kejriwal is more popular in social media (not about more followers) but overall people’s opinions on his Delhi model. Looking at the present scenario we can predict, a tug of war between BJP and Congress, and AAP will definitely perform better if people are convinced with Kejriwal’s promises.
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