Uttarakhand CM Rawat ‘faces Lok Sabha polls test’
Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is on a whirlwind tour of the state these days campaigning for the general elections as, according to some BJP leaders, his political survival hinges on whether he would be able to help the party retain all the five Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Political analysts also agree that the Lok Sabha polls would be a referendum on whether the growth agenda he pursued has gone down well with people or not. But most importantly Rawat might have to discontinue if the BJP is not able to retain all the five Lok Sabha seats, party insiders said.
Such a scenario would also mean that he couldn’t live up to the trust the BJP brass reposed in him by choosing him to helm the state after the party’s landslide win in the 2017 polls. The BJP brass projected him as the party’s face for the two crucial elections held in the state last year. Rawat didn’t let his mentors down as the BJP fared well both in the Tharali bypoll and the urban body polls.
Buoyed by the victories, the BJP brass has again projected him as the party’s face for the Lok Sabha polls in the state. “After Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is our party’s face for the Lok Sabha elections at the national level, chief minister Rawat is leading the party’s election campaign in all the five Lok Sabha seats in the state,” said Munna Singh Chauhan, the spokesperson of the BJP’s state unit.
Party’s state general secretary Naresh Bansal said there was no doubt that Rawat was the BJP’s second face for the Lok Sabha elections in the state after PM Modi.
“Besides, the entire battery of the party’s organisational leaders from the state is supporting him in the campaign, apart from our central leaders who will soon start campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls in the state,” he said.
Chauhan said that since state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt is contesting from Nainital the entire responsibility of helming the election campaign has also gone to the chief minister. According to him, Rawat is also spearheading the BJP’s poll campaign in the rest four seats -- Tehri, Pauri, Almora and Haridwar.
The party has repeated its three sitting parliamentarians -- Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah, Union minister of state for textiles Ajay Tamta and former chief minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank -- from Tehri, Almora and Haridwar, respectively. It has fielded fresh faces, state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt (Nainital) and party national secretary Tirath Singh Rawat (Pauri).
None of these contestants is able to campaign outside their constituencies owing to anti-incumbency stacked against the ruling party.
No wonder, Rawat has been on a whirlwind tour of the state campaigning for all the BJP candidates for the five Lok Sabha seats since March 23. “He (Rawat) is slated to address as many as 50 election rallies till the campaigning comes to an end,” Bansal said, adding the CM has been addressing about four rallies each day.
Political analysts agree to BJP insiders’ opinion that the CM could be replaced if the party fails to retain all five Lok Sabha seats. “The possibility can’t be ruled out in case the BJP fails to retain all the Lok Sabha seats,” said Professor YP Sundriyal of HNB Garhwal (Central) University. “But it all would depend on whether the voter is satisfied with the government’s track record in implementing its and the Centre’s schemes.”
His colleague Prof MM Semwal said whether Rawat continues or not would depend a lot on how many parliamentary seats the BJP wins in the state.
Asked if the chief minister’s political fortunes would depend on the BJP’s electoral performance, its state spokesperson Chauhan said, “Holding that post is a huge responsibility.”