Over the past month, new banners and hoardings of the ‘Bemisaal Garhwal Abhiyan’ or unparalleled Garhwal campaign have dotted the Garhwal hills in Uttarakhand. Each one sports a photograph of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval’s son Shaurya, invites people to connect with his Abhiyan, and lists two telephone numbers.
While one is a number to give a missed call on to show support for the campaign, the other is for information on Shaurya Doval and the Abhiyan. When called, the operator for the second number says that “anyone who thinks of a better Garhwal can participate in the campaign, which is an initiative of Shaurya Doval”.
The information is also available in the Garhwali language and of the seven districts in the Garhwal region, the hoardings and banners have come up in Dehradun and Pauri districts.
Director of the India Foundation, a think tank that works closely with the Centre, Shaurya has been actively travelling across the state’s Garhwal region since November 2017, it is learnt, to build momentum for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, which he intends to contest from the Pauri Garhwal seat.
Under the Bemisaal Garhwal campaign, which started late in 2017, career counselling sessions have been held in the region, including in Chaubattakhal, Pokhra, Satpuli and Kotdwar, in Pauri district, where counsellors were brought from Delhi to give career advice to students.
Under the campaign, mobile clinics have been set up across Garhwal villages too. The campaign has an office in Dehradun with a staff of about five who manage the initiatives under the campaign.
The Facebook page of the campaign mentions Shaurya’s Buland Uttarakhand initiative, of which the Bemisaal Garhwal campaign is a part. “Buland Uttarakhand is a vision to transform Uttarakhand, and Bemisaal Garhwal Abhiyan is a specific action at an individual level,” Shaurya told The Indian Express.
In December last year, Shaurya, whose ancestral village Ghidi falls in the Pauri Garhwal region, became a member of the Uttarakhand BJP’s state executive committee. His Facebook page, which has over one lakh followers, also describes him as a “BJP leader from Uttarakhand”. Speaking on why he chose this campaign, he said, “If a political aspect comes out of it, then so be it. but even if it doesn’t, the initiative is still essential.”
“I don’t know whether I will contest (Lok Sabha) elections. That is not in my hands. But, I do understand that politics is a very important ability to start shaping the narrative of a place. Buland Uttarakhand and Bemisaal Garhwal are part of an attempt to change the narrative (in Uttarakhand).”
The Uttarakhand BJP remains tight-lipped about whether the campaign is a stepping stone towards Shaurya Doval’s candidature for the Lok Sabha polls. Uttarakhand BJP president Ajay Bhatt said, “The Bemisaal Garhwal campaign has nothing to do with the BJP. We have no (direct) participation in the campaign. Shaurya Doval is a member of the state executive committee since he has global experience, and he can guide us to resolve the issues of Uttarakhand. It is too early to comment on the political benefits of the campaign.”