Ram Singh Kaira join the BJP, the party search for winning candidates in Uttarakhand

Ram Singh Kaira, an independent MLA representing the Bhimtal constituency, joined the ruling party. Kaira had contested the 2017 assembly elections as an independent when the Congress did not give him a ticket.

With Ram Singh Kaira, an independent MLA representing the Bhimtal constituency, joining the BJP, the party is continuing its search for winning candidates in Uttarakhand.

With Kaira joining the party, the saffron party has been able to bring in a total of three MLAs in a month. On 8 September an independent MLA Pritam Panwar joined the party and on 13 September a Dalit Congress MLA Rajkumar followed in his footsteps.

Kaira, once a trusted aide of former chief minister Harish Rawat, said she was impressed by the work of the BJP. Kaira joined in the presence of Union Minister Smriti Irani, BJP’s national media in-charge Anil Baluni, state in-charge Dushyant Gautam and state BJP president Madan Kaushik. Still, the trio – Baluni, Gautam and Kaushik – are closely monitoring the political developments in the hill state with elections due in four months.

What is BJP’s strategy?
Insiders say the BJP’s strategy is clear, it wants to woo those who have the potential to win elections. Amid protests from local party units, though the party has refrained from saying whether newcomers will contest the upcoming elections on party symbols, it is clear that it is ‘destined to happen’.

“What’s wrong with bringing good people to the party?” Asked what a top leader said about creating unrest among party workers. Another leader indicated that some Congress leaders, including MLAs, may change in the coming days.

Recently, party’s prominent face Anil Baluni has said, “There is a madness among the opposition party (read Congress) to join BJP and we may have to put up a house full board”.

Key Factors for BJP
No party in the political history of Uttarakhand has been able to return to power without a gap of five years. However, BJP is leaving no stone unturned to break this tradition. The party changed two chief ministers since March, as back to back polls suggested voters were not happy with the regime.

With Kumaon’s young Rajput leader Pushkar Singh Dhami as chief minister, party strategists feel he has improved the atmosphere. A section in the party feels strongly that Dhami will be able to take on Congress’ Rajput leader Harish Rawat, who hails from the Kumaon region.

However, with very little time left, whether Dhami’s magic will be able to turn, it remains a big question. The ‘anti-incumbency’ is troubling the party, especially in the plains, where farmers have the keys.

Meanwhile, the party high command has indicated that it will act aggressively and will not shy away from replacing “weak” candidates with “winning” candidates irrespective of age and party allegiance.