Uttarakhand assembly election this time is all about turncoats and rebels
Uttarakhand this time is poised for an interesting electoral battle as people wait to vote in a new assembly in the hilly State. When final results come on March 11, it will be fascinating to evaluate success and failures of turncoats. As many as two dozen turncoats are in the fray from the ruling Congress as well as the BJP, though latter bags a majority of them following a failed coup that could not dislodge Harish Rawat government in the state last year.
Early last year political uncertainty gripped the state for almost two months after nine MLAs of the ruling Congress deserted the party to pledge their allegiance with the BJP. They were later joined by one more MLA. Now all these 10 MLAs, along with Cabinet Minister and former Uttarakhand Congress chief Yashpal Arya, are in the fray on BJP. Mr. Aryaâ€™s son Sanjeev has also been given by a BJP ticket.
Similarly, Congress also engineered defections of at least two BJP MLAs and also two BSP MLAs during its tenure and they all are now its nominees in these polls. Similarly, it has also given ticket to Cabinet Minister Harish Chandra Durgapal, who last time won as an Independent after rebelling from the Congress who later supported the Congress Government.
All these factors are much talked about as it hogged limelight in not only regional media but also national media. The issue of turncoats also got prominence as it was associated with the alleged corruption CD issue of last year involving Chief Minister Harish Rawat, which is now being investigated by the CBI.
However, there are several disgruntled leaders from both BJP and the Congress who have rebelled following the denial of tickets to them. From both sides there are several former MLAs and failed contestants from 2012 assembly polls who will be seen entering the fray. Though hardly one or two would taste victory, many others would turn out to be spoilsport for either BJP or the Congress. Post announcement of list of candidates, protests have started to emerge in both the parties with several disgruntled leaders switching sides, while many are preparing to enter the fray as Indepedent. This will continue for the next few days till the filing of nominations is over, after which the electioneering will gather steam.
In 2012, Congress had managed to bag just one more seat than BJPâ€™s 31 in the 70 member state assembly, and later went on to form the government with the help of BSP and two Independent MLAs who were Congress rebel. A similar situation could emerge this time too in a keenly fought contest as many prominent rebels from both the parties have the influence in their respective constituencies to influence the mood of voters.
Going by the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP, which won all five Lok Sabha seats, bagged 62 of the 70 assembly segments. While in Nainital and Garhwal (Pauri) seats the Congress drew a blank, it won just two assembly segments in Almora, which is â€œhomeâ€ constituency of Harish Rawat which he represented it in the 1980s. It was only in the Haridwar Lok Sabha seat that the Congress managed to win five assembly segments compared to BJPâ€™s nine. In UPA-2 Haridwar was represented by Harish Rawat and in 2014 his wife Renika Rawat was in the fray.
Indian electoral politics is full of surprises and uncertainties. It is very hard to say whether BJP will be able to repeat its 2014 performance in Uttarakhand, particularly when Prime Minister Narendra Modiâ€™s â€œcharismaâ€, which the BJP encashed handsomely in 2014, will be on test again. Moreover, state and local issues will also shape the mood of electioneering in the days to come. Another factor that will have an impact on the poll outcome is the presence of BSP, particularly in the Haridwar region where it has been winning some seats in the last few assembly elections.
(Sandeep Joshi, formerly with The Hindu, is Founder-Editor of Uttarakhand Panorama news portal.)”