Uttarakhand Assembly Polls: The Odds Of New CM

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Uttarakhand:  Amid tight security, the polling for the single-phase Uttarakhand assembly elections began on Wednesday and the one question in everyone’s mind is whether this Himalayan state, which was carved out from the gigantic Uttar Pradesh in 2000, is going to have a new chief minister or the incumbent supremacy will continue.

The rebel party leaders, certainly, hold the key in the outcome in the hilly state where two prominent parties – the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and the Congress – are trying every bit to seek the favour of every section of voters. Both parties expelled many leaders ahead of the elections, who then walked into the rival camps. While the BJP has fielded candidates, who have served the Congress, from 13 seats, the grand old party is trying its luck with seven erstwhile-BJP MLAs.

In the last leg of the election campaign, the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi asked to waive off loans worth crores which were taken by some 50 rich families, instead of an initiative against black money as Prime Minister Narendra Modi projected.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Modi, in his last rally in Pithoragarh, tried to strike an emotional chord where the majority of people are in the Army and other security forces. Starting from OROP and surgical strike, he went on to announce many schemes for the betterment of Army personnel.

Reports of the cold war between Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Kishore Upadhyay emerged as the polls drew near. Besides fighting with the BJP, Harish Rawat is also combating for power within the state unit of his party.

Although he has refuted reports saying there is no discord between him and Upadhyaya, the point that cannot be missed is that in the last eight months, 11 Congress legislators in Uttarakhand have left the party to join the BJP. The major leaders leaving the party could be one of the reasons for the fall of the Congress in Uttarakhand.

Talking about the 2012 polls, the BJP won 31 seats as opposed to the 32 won by the Congress.

In the 2007 polls, the BJP came out as the largest party with 35 seats, while the Congress received 21 seats.

The BJP has not yet unveiled the chief ministerial candidate in the hill state. Highlighting the reason, state president Ajay Bhatt said the political strategy changes from time to time depending on the circumstances and the party has opted for collective leadership for the polls in Uttarakhand.

“The BJP, sometimes, projects a face and sometimes we do not and work under a collective leadership. We have examples of both types. In Haryana, we did not project any face and results were favorable,” he said.

“This time, the party has not projected any face in Uttarakhand and we have adopted the strategy of collective leadership. On the other hand, we have our Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is a great leader and has no parallel. He covers all faces,” he added.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has previously received 10 to 14 percent of total votes, having won three, eight and seven seats in the last three elections respectively.

As BJP candidate Kuldeep Kanvasi died on Sunday, now 69 of a total of 70 assembly seats barring Karnaprayag go to polls in the single phase assembly elections in Uttarakhand today.

Uttarakhand might have been a good battlefield for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too, but the party, which is giving a tough competition to the stalwarts in the Punjab political scenario, chose to remain out of fray.

The results of the polls will be out on March 11, 2017.