By Sidharth Mishra
Last week, it snowed in the higher reaches of Uttarakhand. Cold winds sweep down the hills to the valleys, making it increasingly difficult to campaign for the Assembly polls scheduled for February 15. This is an unusual battle being fought. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has done, to use a cricketing euphemism, a Kerry Packer on the ruling Congress.
For those not interested in cricket, Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer was an Australian media tycoon. The Packer family company owned a controlling interest in both the Channel Nine television network and leading Australian publishing company Australian Consolidated Press, which were later merged to form Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL). Outside Australia, Packer was best known for founding World Series Cricket. Unable to get the exclusive telecasting rights for the England-Australia 1976 test series for Channel 9, owned by him, he created an alternative cricket series involving leading players of the world. At the height of World Series Cricket (WSC) exhibition matches, the leading teams of Australia and West Indies saw their leading lights defecting to Packer camp. This time around Congress has witnessed 11 of its leading lights in Uttarakhand defect to the BJP. The numbers are indeed good enough to form a cricket team.
Like Alvin Kallicharan of West Indies and Bobby Simpson of Australia, one gets an impression that Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat has been left to lead a ramshackle team into the polls. However, the comparisons end here. The defections have to an extent revived the fortunes of the Congress party, which till about a year back was slated to be swept out of the office.