Twenty years of existence and Uttarakhand is all set to welcome its tenth Chief Minister, Tirath Singh Rawat, the low profile BJP Member of Parliament from Pauri Garhwal. As Rawat gets ready to lead Uttarakhand, here are key five challenges facing the new dispensation.
1 – Political Management
With the 2022 assembly elections almost a year away, Rawat’s top most priority would be in managing the affairs of his party. The better he manages inner party factionalism, smoother the transition. Rawat will need to aim for equal work distribution in his cabinet, unlike before when several positions were left vacant.
2 – Facilitating governance and growth
Rawat would need to provide focus on several high ticket projects. The Centre is betting big on infrastructure with the Char Dham all weather road, Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail link and Bharatmala project. Unemployment has seen a major spike during the past several years and there is dissatisfaction with prevailing levels of healthcare, education and other allied sectors.
3 – Managing Chardham and Kumbh
Chardham Yatra and Kumbh have always been central to the affairs of Uttarakhand. A well organized Kumbh in 2019 boosted Yogi’s image as an able administrator in Uttar Pradesh. For the same to happen for Tirath, high quality management of the holy events will be a must. It becomes even more critical in the light of the Devasthanam Board law passed by the previous leadership.
4 – Gairsain Narrative
Gairsain will occupy a central stage in the upcoming assembly elections. The incident of lathicharge and decision to create Gairsain as a third commissionery has not gone down well with the masses. In the light of such events, the way in which Rawat redefines the narrative on Gairsain will play a vital role for him.
5 – Delivering with bureaucracy
Managing the bureaucracy has always been a pain point for the political leadership of Uttarakhand. The earlier experiences of Cabinet Ministers Satpal Maharaj, Harak Singh Rawat, Rekha Arya and Subodh Uniyal have enough lessons on the need to align state bureaucracy with political leadership.
Rawat will need to play aggressively on the front foot, without the luxury of time. With a political opposition bolstered by the midway exit of the former CM and unbridled political aspirations of many BJP stalwarts, he would need to do a fine balancing act.
(Authors are working with Dehradun based SDC Foundation)
The article was originally published in the print edition of The Times of India on 11th March 2021.
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