The BJP today made a clean sweep in Uttarakhand securing a nearly three-fourth majority in the 70-member state assembly. It exceeded by a wide margin not only the predictions made in the exit polls, but also the wildest dreams of its own leadership. In all the previous three elections, the victory margin between the two traditional rivals was minimal. In 2007, the BJP had formed the government with only 36 seats. This time, it was an historic victory for the BJP that left the Congress gasping for breath.
Harish Rawat, who until on March 10 had stubbornly claimed that the Congress would emerge victorious, himself bit the dust in both the constituencies from where he had contested. Not only Rawat but virtually his entire cabinet has been decimated. The results that were eventually declared today spread a wave of jubilation among the thousands of BJP supporters who instantly came out onto the streets to celebrate.
The relentless, abusive campaign that the BJP leaders had launched against Harish Rawat accusing him of numerous acts of corruption, virtually boomeranged since the accusers themselves, in public perception, were men of doubtful integrity. The so-called rebellion by nine Congress legislators was deliberately orchestrated and deftly planned when the budget was being debated in the Vidhan Sabha. The objective was not only to cause embarrassment to the Harish Rawat government but also to bring about its downfall. Obviously, there must have been some quid pro quo between the BJP and the nine Congress members. The BJP had its way and President’s Rule was instantly imposed. However, both the BJP and the renegades lost face when the Harish Rawat government was reinstated within 45 days thanks to judicial intervention.
When electioneering began, Harish Rawat more than proved his mettle as an indefatigable campaigner. He was, in fact, a lone ranger and almost single-handedly conducted the Congress campaign across the state, addressing over 150 meetings in the course of two weeks. However, all that strenuous campaigning came to naught in the face of Prime Minister Modi’s hurricane that swept the state.
Thus it was not as much the anti-incumbency sentiment against chief minister Harish Rawat that dethroned his government, as the energetic electioneering by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that took the wind out of the sails of Rawat’s campaign. It was the repeated telecasts of his campaign speeches that further spread his message to every nook and corner of the state. Rahul Gandhi’s 75-kilometre-long road show on February 12 in the Haridwar region, though highly successful, was too little too late. Thus, the credit for the victorious outcome of the election in Uttarakhand, as in Uttar Pradesh, is Modi’s and Modi’s alone. He once again proved, if any proof was needed, that he is truly the BJP’s lucky mascot.
What does this runaway victory of the BJP mean for the people of the state? It may sound cynical but the reality is that the successive governments in the state irrespective of their political colour have failed in the elementary task of good governance even when they had razor-thin majorities. Now that the BJP has returned with a much larger majority, it can behave like a wild horse with no rider to rein it in. And that would not be so good for democracy.
Raj Kanwar is a Dehra Dun-based political analyst and veteran journalist. The views expressed are email@example.com