New Delhi: With Congress not apparently putting up a strong fight, the BJP seems to be in a position to retain power in Uttarakhand after the Assembly election due early next year. Significantly, the contest now seems to be between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the BJP. Only these two parties are visible in the hill state whether it is election publicity or social media. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the charismatic face from the BJP, while the AAP has popularized Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal widely in the state. As far as Congress is concerned, only Harish Rawat is visible in the media from the party. It seems that the handful of other leaders of the Congress is not taking any interest in the elections. If this situation continues for the next three months, then the BJP’s return to power will be almost certain.

What gives BJP another advantage is that the charisma of PM Modi continues in the state. PM Modi has become more popular in the hills ever since all weather-road and train connectivity near Badrinath Dham projects came up. PM Modi has wooed people of the hills all the more by gifting projects worth Rs 20,000 crore to Uttarakhand on Saturday. These projects will benefit the Garhwal Mandal, Western UP and Himachal Pradesh. PM Modi will give more projects to Uttarakhand when he goes there on 24 December. So the BJP is banking on both the PM Modi and CM Pushkar Singh Dhami in Uttarakhand. The AAP has pushed Arvind Kejriwal and CM candidate Ajay Kothiyal to counter the BJP. Former CM Harish Rawat is the only hope for Congress. Even the State PCC chief Ganesh Godiyal is unable to establish his own identity.

Meanwhile, the CLP leader Pritam Singh wants Congress to ensure that its former leaders who are in BJP come back to the party fold so as to reduce Rawat’s clout. Former Congress state unit chief Kishore Upadhyaya is unhappy after being sidelined. He is said to be in touch with the BJP. Kishore Upadhyaya and Pritam Singh are the only two faces left in Congress from Garhwal. Congress does not have any leader who could create some impact. The party is banking on Rawat only. But the BJP has upstaged Congress by repealing the three farm laws which was a big issue related to the farming community. Secondly, the opposition is on backfoot after the government’s decision to withdraw the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act. Congress has got a blow in the Garhwal mandal itself where it was expecting too much.

Both the AAP and the Congress were keeping an eye on BJP leaders Harak Singh Rawat and Satpal Maharaj who were likely to quit the party. However, both the leaders have nothing to do with ideology. The only agenda of both of them is to join the party which could project them as CM candidates. They change parties gauging the mood of the voters. Another leader is Vijay Bahuguna. All these three leaders will switch sides if they find that BJP is getting weak. But the Congress and the AAP have already announced their CM candidates, spilling the plans of these three.

In fact, since the foundation of Uttarakhand, no party could develop any strong leader who could lead the outfit to electoral victory. As a result, the Congress and the BJP have been coming to power alternatively. This time round, the AAP has emerged as a third front. The newbie party can damage Congress more than the BJP. AAP is spending more than the Congress. Moreover, Congress central leadership is also weak, whereas the BJP has a strong leader like PM Modi. There are indications that the BJP high command may drop 20 out of 25 sitting MLAs. Meanwhile, Congress’ organisation is also very weak in the state. The party is hoping to win on anti-incumbency votes and caste politics.