Dehradun: With assembly elections round the corner in Uttarakhand, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking upon charisma of present Chief Minister BC Khanduri to successfully sail through the state elections. By passing the baton of power into the hands of Khanduri from former Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank in September last year, the party leadership made it clear that it is all set to capitalize Khanduri’s clean image during election campaign to ensure victory.

The state has witnessed instability during last five years of BJP rule owing to growing factionalism in the party leading to the change of chief ministers on two occasions.

In 2007, when BJP was voted to power, BC Khanduri was appointed as the chief minister of the state but due to growing rivalry between Khanduri and former chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, the party leadership was forced to find a middle path and replaced Khanduri by his ministerial colleague Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in June 2009. But realizing public disenchantment towards Nishank government, Khanduri was brought back to limelight in September last year when he was again appointed as the state chief minister for the second time.

Though, former chief minister and chief of the election campaign committee, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, has been predominant in distribution of party tickets but the retired army officer Major General Khanduri is dominating the election campaign of the party in the state.
The central leaders of the party like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Sushma Sawaraj and Rajanath Singh have projected Khanduri as the next chief minister of the state. The party leadership is banking of the clean image of the incumbent chief minister and are hopeful of encashing his popularity to regain power in the state.

However, similar experiment by the party ahead of 2002 Assembly elections, when the party swapped chief ministers and replaced Nityanand Swami with Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, failed to click and they lost ground to opposition.

Still, the experts believe that Nitin Gadkari’s assessment favoured Khanduri only after several internal surveys conducted by the party hinted the fact. And also Khanduri had the blessings of RSS for being projected as the party’s face in the state polls.

Gadkari’s surveys made it clear to the party that Khanduri’s ouster in 2009 had caused disenchantment among masses and therefore to regain the lost ground the party must reinstate Khanduri ahead of the polls.

Interestingly, the BJP is highlighting the decisions taken by the Chief Minster Khanduri for the development of the state instead of the targets achieved by the state government in the last five years.

Lokayukta Bill and Right to Service Act have emerged as the poll plank of the BJP to highlight the achievements of the state government.