Rawat invokes 'Uttarakhandiyat, builds poll campaign

Rawat invokes 'Uttarakhandiyat, builds poll campaign

To counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aggressive style of campaigning, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat has taken a leaf out of the script of his arch rival.

The Congress campaign for Wednesday’s Assembly elections in the hill state revolves around Rawat and ‘Uttarakhandiyat’ or pride of Uttarakhand, somewhat similar to what Modi did during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister by raising the issue of ‘Gujarati Asmita’ or  pride of Gujarat.

‘Uttarakhand Rahe Khushaal, Rawat Poore Paanch Saal’ (Let Uttarakhand prosper, five-year term for Rawat) read the huge banners put up across the state by the Congress. With most of the rivals out of the party after a failed coup to unseat him as chief minister last March, Rawat appears to have a firm grip on the organisation in the state.

In rallies across the state, the chief minister plays his ‘son of the soil’ card to the hilt and never loses an opportunity to lampoon Modi as the ‘chamatkari baba’ (wizard) from Delhi who has “not fulfilled the promises made during the elections”.

Uttarakhand Congress chief Kishor Upadhyay, the chief minister’s only key detractor within the party, is seen reluctantly following Rawat’s line.

“This election is a direct fight between Rawat and Modi. Rawat is among a handful few who have challenged the prime minister head on,” Meherban Ali Khwaja, who is among the chief minister’s campaign managers in the Haridwar Rural constituency, told DH.

Even the rival BJP camp admits that Rawat has become a formidable force, particularly after their failed coup to unseat him last year. The BJP had taken advantage of the murmurs within the Congress and fanned dissent.

Both Rawat and Upadhyay argue that by trying to topple the Congress government, the BJP had hurt the pride of Uttarakhand.

“The BJP had hurt the Uttarakhandi pride by telling them that the government they had elected was illegal.  Don’t allow this Uttarakhandiyat to be suppressed,” is Rawat’s refrain in the rallies.

Among his achievements, Rawat does not forget to mention Modi’s showcase initiative Start-up India. “We did it in Uttarakhand much before Modi did. We gave start up money to the youth and turned them form job seekers to job creators,” he said.

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