In an eco-fragile Uttarakhand, environmental issues have not dominated the campaign
Politicians raised several issues in the lead-up to the February 14 Uttarakhand Assembly election. These included development and temples. Trivendra Singh Rawat, former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, attempted to bring the four shrines, Kedarnath Gangotri, Gangotri, Yamunotri, and Badrinath under one board. However, the 2019 Act was withdrawn in November 2021 due to continued opposition from priests. Pushkar Singh, the new Chief Minister, performed a review of the Act. He replaced Mr. Trivendra Singh Rawat who was replaced in March 2021 by Mr. Tirath Singh Rawat. According to Mr. Dhami, while the decision was made with good intentions, the Board was rescheduled after discussions within the Government. Everyone, from Prime Minister NarendraModi to local leaders of the BJP, praised the redevelopment at Kedarnath as one of the achievements of what they called the double engine government in the Centre or Uttarakhand. In December, Modi inaugurated the Lakhwar multipurpose construction project and 8,700 crore-worth road projects. Modi called this the “decade of Uttarakhand” because the Government is funding major infrastructure projects. While environmentalists have raised concerns that rules were not being followed for large infrastructure projects in the past, major parties have not raised environmental concerns.
The campaign is also dominated by issues of national security, welfare of ex-service personnel, and other issues. Uttarakhand politics, which has a large retirement population, has seen some grandstanding about issues that appeal to them. General Bipin Rawat, Col., was the brother of the late Chief Of Defence Staff. (retd.) Vijay Rawat, a retired colonel, joined the BJP last week. Ajay Kothiyal, a retired colonel from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), has been projected as the party’s chief ministerial candidate. He also promised all ex-servicemen in the State government jobs. Mr. Dhami, who is the son of a soldier, said that only the BJP respects the forces. The BJP is trying fight anti-incumbency. They have already changed two Chief ministers in a matter months. After losing power in 2017, the Congress hopes to regain power. After losing power in 2017, Congress is looking to regain it. There has been much controversy over ticket distribution and infighting within the party. Harish Rawat, former Chief Minister, is one of the candidates for the leadership position. AAP joined the race with the promise to develop, replicate the Delhi model and end power sharing between the Congress and the BJP. There are many promises, from better schools and free water, to better electricity and electricity. Unsaid debates on the best development model for Uttarakhand’s fragile ecology are lacking.