The Bharatiya Janata Party has given Pushkar Singh Dhami a second term as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. Dhami will take oath today in Dehradun.
In the state assembly election held last month, Dhami lost from Khatima, his own seat. He had served as MLA from Khatima twice in a row before losing the seat in 2022.
BJP's central observers for Uttarakhand Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Meenakshi Lekhi were present in Dehradun for developments around the legislature party meeting and the final decision.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah -- all are putting the weight of their support and presence behind Dhami's appointment and oath taking. The message would be going down to not only the MLAs from BJP, but also to other parties in the state, Dhami's supporters in Khatima and Kumaon, and to the voters of Uttarakhand in general, that Dhami may have lost the Khatima election, but he has the people's confidence to lead the state.
Sections of the media have repeatedly highlighted the fact that Dhami has made it to the post after losing his seat. This report has called the BJP's step of choosing Dhami for the CM post as "going against the people's mandate..."
Dhami had taken over as chief minister in 2021 after then chief minister Teerath Singh Rawat stepped down. Teerath Singh Rawat had taken over as CM after the resignation of Trivendra Singh Rawat. Dhami's appointment had played a role in stabilising the state leadership amid uncertainty.
Dhami's return as chief minister was almost certain towards the end of 2021 itself when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his back to back visits to the state, was seen encouraging the "yuva neta".
Dhami resolved issues that were considered sticky. He got six months in his previous tenure to bring back balance to the leadership. Moreover, he led the BJP to victory and contributed to its return, as covered in this article.
Here are reasons why the BJP has retained him for the CM post:
One: Retaining of people's trust
Dhami led the party to victory after a period of uncertainty. While Narendra Modi's connection with voters in the state did help the BJP to emerge from a troubled phase, the voters clearly have responded to the Modi-Dhami team.
PM Modi's support to Dhami as chief minister ahead of the assembly election could not have been clearer and more visible than it was during visits to Kedarnath and Dehradun. Keeping Dhami is retaining the trust of people in Dhami and in Modi's trust in Dhami.
Modi's faith in his leadership could not have been presented in a broken chain of leadership by appointing another as CM. It would also give a number to the figure. The number is 4 (three CMs have served the state in the previous term). Letting Dhami go from the top post would have practically presented BJP as a party with intense leadership issues. Letting Dhami go would have put a question mark on Modi's confidence in the man under whom the BJP defeated Congress to return to power.
Actions of PM Modi, Rajnath Singh and Meenakshi Lekhi clearly state that the acceptance of Dhami as a youth leader in the voters has been respected despite his loss in Khatima. Dhami, too, has displayed the sense of trust of the leadership over his meetings with party workers, colleagues, cabinet colleagues.
Two: Placing the glue
The BJP in Uttarakhand has leaders who would want to be seen at the top post. These are MLAs known for being popular in the state or region, MLAs with influence, or those who have had a firm foot at the Centre. Dhami is a former MLA. His previous tenure as CM of six months was all he had as of the evening of 10 March.
Even after the results of his constituency was announced, Dhami kept a winner's face and attitude. The confidence helped Dhami in sending a quiet message -- that he is and will be in the game.
Events ahead of voting and some on the voting day have suggested the state unit needs attention. Dhami brings stability, will work as glue placed by the BJP's top leadership is the message. The state unit needs work, and that can happen while Dhami is leading Modi's double engine.
Dhami has the support of the MLAs, especially the senior leaders among them. Factions and factions of factions have been snapped for now.
No MLA, it is safe to say, would want to be in the shoes of the former MLA from BJP who was dismissed from cabinet, expelled from the party for six years, and did not manage to get a ticket from the party he later joined.
In short, the message is: "work". The message is "mandate".
Three: Decade the destination, women the cause
In 2021, while Dhami was serving as the chief minister, PM Modi announced that the coming decade will belong to Uttarakhand. This writer had said in 2021 and in reports this year that there are indications that Modi would want unhindered continuity in the work towards the infrastructural and development projects announced in the state for the decade-centric task cut out for the state BJP led government.
The party has beaten several odds in Kumaon to keep the Congress behind. Anything different in the results from Kumaon would have indicated concerns for the BJP, concerns for the Members of Parliament from the region.
The BJP-led government, and PM Modi are aware that the issue of outmigration remains crucial to the people of the state, and to the destiny of a state with two international borders. The issue of outmigration needs to be addressed in work more than speeches.
Improvement in health infrastructure alongside development needs to remain a priority, particularly in the upper parts of the state.
Women in the state share a special bond with PM Modi. The percentage of women voters has exceeded men in the state in 2022 -- a factor that the BJP was expecting positives from. Women's continuing support to the BJP encourages Dhami as the top political representative of the state.
Women voters would expect more improvement in lives, health infrastructure and education for their children. Women are the anchors of work against outmigration from villages in the upper parts of the state. The "decade" cannot make itself without their happiness and satisfaction.
Same goes for the BJP and Dhami.
Four: Cultural security
The entry of Narendra Modi's work in Uttarakhand, his careful narrative on the state, has evened out the narrative of Kumaon versus Garhwal to some extent. The BJP faltered in some decision-making last year on the issue of Gairsain being made the third mandal. The rectification came but a CM resigned in the fourth year of his tenure.
CM Dhami and the BJP seem pretty aware that expectations of the voters, especially those who have stood by the BJP giving the mandate for continuity, matter more than the political exercise of confronting the opposition and the issues erected by it.
The Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board issue was solved by Dhami against several odds in Kedarnath. Dhami will have to think and look beyond plastering errors and becoming proactive in spotting and addressing cultural security (which envelopes the issue of land security).T
he BJP's reasons for standing for the expectation of the pahadi voter are evident in the results of 2022. The BJP state unit may like to make the best of the mandate. Cultural security is a rising concern among the people of the state. Dhami will have to deliver what Modi envisions.
Five: 'Frontrunner' for CM post is frontrunner for state
Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are important to PM Modi's vision for India's soft power. Two jyotirlingas and cultural ties with Nepal are two spiritually binding factors that will see UP CM Yogi Adityanath, CM Dhami and PM Modi working as two teams in one. Ganga, the third factor. People strengths -- fourth. Handicraft and agri-based soft power -- fifth.
Improvement in the lives of communities living in the border districts and border constituencies will ensure that the infrastructural projects progressing on ground are used in increased emotional participation from people to protect India's hard power.
The work on Sainya Dham (the BJP is projecting as the fifth dham in the state) is important to Rajnath Singh, to Mussoorie MLA Ganesh Joshi, to Dhami. Dhami will have to pour in sweat to be the runner for the state, it soft power, and its meaning to India's hard power.
The mandate emerging from the 2022 assembly election is for continuity of PM Modi's work in Uttarakhand. The mandate emerging from the 2022 assembly election is for the need to bring improvement (47/70) in work.
The BJP has the chance to be unstoppable from this moment -- provided its state unit is in sync with Modi's work, tasks, emotional involvement, and Dhami's leadership and work as chief minister.
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