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In Uttarakhand, Amit Shah Cleverly Sidesteps Rawat vs Outsider Gambit

The snow clad peaks in the backdrop have stood witness to many political rallies that Pauri Ramlila Maidan has hosted over the years. Tuesday afternoon, again the stage was set, as crowds eagerly awaited for the arrival of the BJP President Amit Shah.

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18

Updated:February 8, 2017, 8:37 AM IST
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In Uttarakhand, Amit Shah Cleverly Sidesteps Rawat vs Outsider Gambit
BJP president Amit Shah addressing a public meeting in Uttarakhand/Vikas Rawat (Network18)
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The snow clad peaks in the backdrop have stood witness to many political rallies that Pauri Ramlila Maidan has hosted over the years. Tuesday afternoon, again the stage was set, as crowds eagerly awaited for the arrival of the BJP President Amit Shah.

Taking a day out of the high stake battle in the neighbouring UP, Shah had decided to devote one full day to the constituencies in the Gharwal Hills.

In the last one week, the Battle of Uttararakhand has picked up with Congress launching a high pitched campaign centred around CM Harish Rawat. BJP has not projected any CM face, banking on collective leadership which includes at least four former CMs and as many CM aspirants.

BJP's line of campaign in Uttarakhand and dependence on national leaders in general and PM Modi in particular is quite evident from Shah's half an hour speech at Pauri.

Almost two third of the address is a direct attack on Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi with a fair sprinkle of Manmohan Singh. From OROP to demonitisation, Shah mocks Rahul comparing what Modi government did vis a vis Congress regimes since Independence.

“When Modi ji implemented OROP, Rahul Gandhi must have gone for a vacation to Italy"; thundered Shah drawing laughter from the crowd. BJP President then talks about scams during UPA regimes and compares it with the performance of Modi government.

Conspicuous in Shah's speech is a direct attack on Harish Rawat.

Amit Shah perhaps is attempting to wriggle the party out of local vs outsider binary which Rawat seems to have built to mount his campaign. Rawat, without taking names, where ever he goes asks in public meetings whether they have got 15 lacks from "Dilli wale baba".

He projects himself as a hill lad who was ousted by the Delhi government but reinstated by the courts. He's running a localised campaign, planning to cover all 70 constituencies before the polls.

BJP's dilemma in the hill state is it's over dependence on PM to win this election when Congress is attempting to make it a Rawat vs outsider election. It's a theme borrowed straight out of neighbouring UP where UP ke ladke is the theme chosen consciously to underscore local vs outsider binary.

"On the other hand our party is waiting that Modi ji will come and we will win" says a senior party leader.

Prime Minister is slated to address four rallies in Uttararakhand, two each in Kumaun and Gharwal before the polling on 15th of February.

| Edited by: Sujit Nath
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