The monumental task of Pushkar Singh Dhami
In crisis-stricken Uttarakhand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has opted for a generational change in its latest choice Pushkar Singh Dhami as chief minister of state. The central party leadership backed down from its previous choice, the controversial Tirath Singh Rawat, less than four months after his appointment – on July 2 at midnight, Rawat had resigned.
Dhami has his work cut out for him. From rebuilding the party’s image to bringing warring factions closer together, it will need to rework the entire plan before it reaches the electoral battlefield, and with elections slated for February next year, it has neither the time nor the resources to make drastic changes.
A member of Union Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s camp, Dhami is the chief prime minister of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah era who was not raised in his own camps. Previously, he worked full time in the youth wing of the RSS, working as deputy secretary of the Uttaranchal unit of the ABVP in the unified Uttar Pradesh. Later, at the insistence of Rajnath Singh, Dhami joined the BJP. Unlike his two predecessors, Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat, who had both served as heads of state units, Dhami’s highest post prior to this elevation was that of head of the youth wing of the unit. of state.
Dhami will face heavyweights like Satpal Maharaj, Trivendra Rawat, Ramesh Pokhariyal, Madan Kaushik, Harak Singh Rawat and Vijay Bahuguna. He also faces a newly aggressive Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, which actively court factions within the BJP, seeking to separate them. A Rajput of the Kumaon region (unlike the Rawats of Garwal), Dhami has not even been a minister for four and a half years, since the BJP swept the state assembly. A top BJP leader in New Delhi suggests that his rise means a shift in focus among the party leadership, and that this could be followed by tickets to younger candidates rather than old warhorses, to counter the anti-functioning of the state. In the past, the party had attempted a similar strategy just before the elections, in 1998 in Delhi and in 2012 in Uttarakhand. However, the party lost these two legislative elections. Some ask if this is too heavy a burden for a two-term MP, especially one with no previous administrative experience. In the two previous cases, the BJP sent Sushma Swaraj and BC Khanduri, both having served as central ministers.
Dhami also served as OSD to the Chief State Prime Minister, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. In BJP circles he is considered a soft-spoken grassroots politician who worked closely with the state’s BJP chief ministers – starting with Rajnath Singh in unified Uttar Pradesh and later with the chief ministers of Uttarakhand – as their maid.
The BJP clearly took a big risk in appointing Dhami, 45, as chief minister, but it is also a clear signal to the warring factions of state unity that the central party leadership is ready. to gradually eliminate them if they do not fall in line. The party has tried to shake things up twice so far, first replacing Trivendra Singh Rawat in March and then Tirath Singh Rawat in July. Trivendra Singh’s exit has been described as the result of his over-reliance on his own coterie, while Tirath’s ousting is said to have been caused by “constitutional complexities” to bring him into the assembly. However, major party sources tell INDIA TODAY that Tirath Singh Rawat has not been able to rally the warring factions, nor has it been able to get the cadres sufficiently enthusiastic. “He was correcting a lot of things, but his speed was slow,” said a BJP leader in Uttarakhand. With Dhami, the BJP hopes to excite grassroots workers.
For now, all Dhami can hope for is that he won’t have to carry the anti-titular sentiment of his two predecessors and that he can start from a clean slate. That said, he will have to keep an eye on the clock as the Assembly elections draw closer. Until then, the central party leadership is crossing their fingers.