Your updated source of information about Dehradun & Uttarakhand.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bahuguna vs Rawat

Rrepresents two distinct styles of political working
Nainital, March 14
It is a case of grassroot politics standing against the sophisticated suave moves termed by critics as “armchair politics” that has come to the fore in Uttarakhand following the Congress emerging as the single largest party in the recent Assembly polls.
The two Congress leaders, Harish Rawat and Vijay Bahuguna, who presently stand out as rivals on the issue of becoming the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, represent these two distinct styles of political working.
Political observers point out that if there is one politician in Uttarakhand who is well aware of the developments in the Congress party right from Uttarkashi in the west to Pithoragarh in the east, it is Harish Rawat. A tireless worker, he has been moving from one corner of the state to the other amid difficult mountainous terrains persistently meeting and galvanizing party cadres in his entire political career. He proved this across the state when he was the state unit chief of the party in the early years of the last decade, and his efforts had not proved futile as the party had come to power in the very first general elections, much to the shock and dismay of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that had never expected such an outcome.
A soft-spoken Congress heavyweight, Rawat has been known for his organisational skills, which he displayed when he won the Haridwar parliamentary seat in 2009 after migrating to the area once his traditional seat of Almora had been declared reserved.
A lad coming from Mohanari village in Almora, Rawat started his political journey from the grassroots. He rose from the ranks of a gram pradhan and the Block Pramukh from Bhikyasen.
His skills took him to the rank of the national general secretary of the Youth Congress and also the national vice president of the trade union wing of the Congress,INTUC. He has also been the Chairman of the Congress Seva Dal in the past.
A member of All India Congress Committee (AICC) since 1980, he won the Lok Sabha polls from the Almora seat three times in a row before experiencing a series of defeats. But he never lied low and worked tirelessly to strengthen the organisation.
He was made president of the Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) in 2000 after the formation of the state. He not only revived the party but also led it to victory in 2002 Assembly polls.
Denied the chief ministerial berth, he was sent to the Rajya Sabha and just when his tenure was coming to an end, Rawat started doing the ground work in Haridwar from where he went on to win the Lok Sabha poll.
Contrary to him, the journey of his present bĂȘte-noir Vijay Bahuguna has been altogether different. The name Bahuguna inherited from none other than the legendary Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna has helped his being propelled to the centrestage of state politics.
The transgression was relatively smooth from a stint in judiciary to the state politics when the agitation for creation of a separate state of Uttarakhand was at its peak. His body language and demeanour are a stark contrast when compared to Rawat.
Bahuguna had unsuccessfully contested the 1998 Lok Sabha poll from the Pauri Garhwal seat and had gone on to shift base to the Tehri constituency. He had again suffered successive defeats in 1999 and 2004. It was in 2007 byepoll that he saw victory and he repeated the performance in 2009.
One of his prime achievements that he had played up on in 2009 was his having addressed the United Nations General Assembly on November 18, 2008, on the issue of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other related matters.
A golf lover who also has a penchant for playing chess and billiards, Bahuguna’s other achievements include his being the Vice Chairman of the State Planning Commission from 2002 to 2007 and his being a part of several parliamentary committees.
Unlike Rawat, he cannot be termed as a leader having mass appeal across the state. But then, as political observers and his critics say, the close access and affiliation to the Gandhi family has always proved to be beneficial in Indian politics. 
Caste politics major factor in Bahuguna’s selection as CM 
Nainital, March 14
Maintaining a regional and caste balance has proved to be a cumbersome task for the political parties in the state.
The ongoing crisis in the Congress on the issue of making of the Chief Minister is also being described by many as a fall out of this factor.
While the state is broadly defined by the politicians in terms of Kumaon and Garhwal, the two main geographical regions, the element of plains versus the hills has also thrived over the past 12 years.
Old timers recount that when the first Chief Minister, Nityanand Swami, was being sworn in to lead an interim Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, it were the followers of his successors Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Dr Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank who had been raising slogans and dubbing him as an outsider from the plains who had been sent to rule a hill state.
The state’s lone regional force, the Uttarkhand Kranti Dal (UKD), has always tried to project itself as a force representing the interests of the hills while its critics have been dubbing it as “anti plains”.
Senior leader Narayan Singh Jantwal had recently told The Tribune. “We are not anti-plains, but we want special attention for the hilly regions that have been left out in the race of development.”
When it comes to the issue of Kumaon versus Garhwal, the undertones have been pretty harsh. Both the two main parties, the BJP and the Congress, have tried to strike a balance so that they are not dubbed as pro Kumaon or pro Garhwal.
The formula that the two parties appear to have adopted is that the Chief Minister comes from one region while the state unit chief of the party comes from the other.
There are several examples to substantiate this phenomenon. At present the state unit chief of the Congress, Yashpal Arya, is from Kumaon while the new Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna is from Garhwal. Prior to this, state unit chief of the BJP Bishen Singh Chufal was from Kumaon while former Chief Minister BC Khanduri was from Garhwal.
Before Khanduri was brought back, Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank was also from Garhwal. During Khanduri’s first stint, when the BJP had come to power, state unit chief Bacchi Singh Rawat had again been from Kumaon.
This formula seems to have become a sort of norm for the two main parties.
Observers feel that the play of the element of caste in Uttarkhand politics cannot be ruled out. It is to be noted that all Chief Ministers in the state have been Brahmins.
It is also a fact that a lobby operating in Dehradun that is spread right through the canvass of bureaucracy, politics and also the media has worked towards projecting a Garhwali Brahmin as a Chief Minister. This phenomenon was visible when it came to choosing Khanduri’s successor after the BJP’s poll debacle in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009.
Observers say that Uttarakhand was carved out in a way that its demographic profile was dominated by upper-caste Hindus. The numbers of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) is pretty less in the state. Among the upper castes, it is the Thakurs and Brahmins who dominate in terms of numbers.
Undertones of resentment have often been heard from Thakurs that they have been denied the premier position of the Chief Minister despite the fact that they are greater in numbers as compared to Brahmins. Some people are viewing the denial of the post to Harish Rawat from the lens of caste politics.
Thakurs complain
Thakurs have often expressed resentment that leaders belonging to the caste have been denied the post of Chief Minister despite their greater population as compared to Brahmins. Some people think that caste politics was responsile for the denial of the Chief Minister’s post to Harish Rawat.
All Chief Ministers in the state have been Brahmins. It is also a fact that a lobby of bureaucrats, politicians and mediapersons operating in Dehradun has worked towards projecting a Garhwali Brahmin as Chief Minister. This phenomenon was visible even when the BJP had to choose Khanduri’s successor after it fared poorly in the Lok Sabha elections in 2009.  

No comments:

Post a Comment