Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami won the bypoll in Champawat by defeating the Congress candidate Nirmala Gahtori. Dhami got 58,258 votes on a 92.94 per cent vote share while Gahtori, getting 3,233 stood on 5.16 per cent.
State assembly election was held in Uttarakhand in February this year where Dhami lost his Khatima seat even as the BJP returned to power. Dhami took the defeat on his chin, almost confident that he will spring back as chief minister and MLA. He has succeeded.
Having defeated Congress in a record victory, Dhami has not only reversed the loss of Khatima, but has been able to turn people of Champawat towards him as if he were a piece of gold thrown off the Khatima electoral fire.
This writer mentioned in this report that the people of Champawat, as BJP leaders have stated, took upon themselves the task to make Dhami forget the defeat at the hands of Bhuwan Chandra Kapri of Congress. Dhami's victory has sent a message to his opponents that the party's backing and support to him, over the bends, loops and curves of the hill state's politics, have given the people of Champawat a chance to find this bulky representation of his presence as their new MLA.
With this victory, BJP and Dhami have been able to exhibit the following:
i) swiftly turn the tide against the Congress within Champawat against the assembly election performance margin (Kailash Chandra Gahtori got 32,547 votes, standing at 50.26 vote share defeating Congress candidate Hemesh Kharkwal, who stood at 27,243 votes with 42.07 per cent vote share).
ii) improve their own performance in the constituency (a triumph for BJP in Kumaon after it outdid Congress in the assembly poll in the region).
iii) redefine the meaning of defeat and victory for an MLA in quick succession of loss and victory.
iv) give the post of CM in a hill state with 70 Vidhan sabha seats and 5 Lok Sabha seats a strong stamp of validation and acceptance (considering winning the election was a constitutional requirement to remain on the post and top chair) within three months of the party coming to power.
v) keep the Modi-Dhami pairing on top in emotional perception of people, especially women and youth for the double engine sarkar.
vi) pause and stop Congress from any signs of rising in not only Kumaon, but the State (the seemingly astounding margin of above 50,000 votes is a sign).
This author has covered the reasons for BJP's belief in Dhami, his fighting the 2022 challenge for the BJP and taking the double engine to the destination here, here, and here. Dhami simply has no option but to erase the impression used by his opponents that he did not or could not pay attention to Khatima because he became chief minister. In addition to that, he will have to outdo himself to give the people of Champawat a chance to not be disappointed over their emotion of making him win to forget his defeat (Khatima).
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Dhami on Twitter. The post said: Congratulations to Uttarakhand’s dynamic CM @pushkardhami for the record win from Champawat. I am confident he will work even harder for the progress of Uttarakhand. I thank the people of Champawat for placing their faith in BJP and laud our Karyakartas for their hardwork."
Champawat falls in Almora Lok Sabha constituency in Kumaon. It is of cultural and political importance to the state as it is part of the district on the international border facing Nepal.
Two months is a long time in politics, as a consistent chief minister and persistent politician in Dhami has proven. Five years is a short time for an MLA who happens to be a chief minister in Uttrakhand. Here is what Dhami can do in the next 12 months to keep the long and short of time in control and keep the time slab culturally productive for future political wins and journey:
One: Use the people base, BJP-worker base and supporter base of Champawat -- each and every person that contributed to the voter turnout (not the winner's 92.94 per cent vote share) to prepare a list of the constituency needs to be fulfilled including road connectivity, health facilities, infrastructure, women-related issues, education, employment and others. Keep the voice of the Van Rawats to the ear via communication and personal dialogue.
Two: From his political desk in Dehradun, make Kumaon his cultural desk to establish Modi's vision of pahadi 'gaurav', the people's vision of Uttarakhandi 'astitv'. Initiate a Gaurav Diwas in all villages (being currently implemented in Madhya Pradesh by CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan) of Kumaon and Garhwal with PM Modi's idea of dev bhakti and desh bhakti as the core. This will build a village-tradition-people-development-vishwas (trust) structure that's hard to penetrate or pierce.
Three: With Champawat (BJP) as his seat, study the constituencies facing Nepal on the India-Nepal border of Uttarakhand -- Khatima (Congress), Lohaghat (Congress) Pithoragarh (Congress), Didihat (BJP), Dharchula (Congress) and the emerging patterns of loyalty to the BJP and the Congress. Discuss the map with the Members of Parliament from Almora and Udham Singh Nagar and that may help BJP's state unit and Modi-led Centre to ward off disappointments of people from Kumaon as was in recent history of 2021, in future.
Four: Keep Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath close. The state government led by Dhami has now to think beyond just election rallies and invite Yogi Adityanath over and over again to strengthen the existing cultural connection and ties with Nepal and share mutually, help build and transform the culture and people strengths of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. There is never a busy moment as an excuse to not take inspiration from Yogi Adityanath on law and order.
Five: Revive Kumaon's role in Uttarakhand's cultural share in Uttarakhand's soft power by proactively encouraging the connection between Dev Prayag and Almora (Ramayana) and their connection via Uttar Pradesh to Nepal.
Work on drawing the youth of Uttarakhand to its legacy of the retelling of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Politics and war can be won by preserving culture and developing a culture of protecting culture.
Dhami's 92.94 per cent score is a signal to take charge of Kumaon like a boss for a balance in emotion between Dehradun and Garsain and for PM Modi's vision for Uttarakhand's decade.
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