In Uttarakhand, Rambo could help lotus bloom
However, driving through the state and spending time in political hubs of its two regions – Dehradun (Garhwal) and Nainital (Kumaon), gives an impression that it’s time for the ‘lotus’ to make a harvest in the hills. Three of the five Congress MPs elected from the state in 2009 have fallen by the side. Haridwar MP Harish Rawat is now the chief minister, Tehri MP Vijay Bahuguna was made CM and later replaced and finally Pauri MP Satpal Maharaj has joined the BJP.
In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had registered 43per cent votes, almost 10per cent more than the BJP. The difference in vote share reflected that the BJP fought the last polls as a divided house. It’s the Congress which is now facing he divisive trauma. The BJP on the other hand has made its three former chief ministers and faction leaders – Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank – its candidate from Pauri, Nainital and Haridwar seats respectively.
Tehri seat was wrested by BJP in the bypoll when Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah defeated then chief minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saket Bahuguna. Rajya Laxmi belongs to erstwhile Tehri royalty and the seat has remained with her family nine of the 16 terms. One of the major reasons for BJP losing this seat in 2009 was putting up shooter Jaspal rana ignoring the claims of the Shah family.
Another important move has been to keep the Hinduvta elements at bay in the allotment of tickets. In 2009, the interference by the holy men had led to replacing BJP candidate from Hardwar Madan Kaushik, then a Minister in state government, by a Hinduvta seer leading to demoralisation of party cadres.
The agitations for the separate hill state in the 1990s and that of building Ram temple at Ayodhya around the same time had several converging points. BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi galvanised its existing cadres during the relief operations following the natural disaster which hit the state in June 2013. Though the ‘Ramboesque aggressive’ relief operation by Gujarat government came for criticism in media and was resented by the local government, it left some impact on the deeply religious people of the state.
Though BJP has too has had its share of resentment with former union minister Bachi Singh Rawat opposing allotment of ticket for Nainital seat Koshiyari but the matter seems to have got drowned for the time being in the turmoil which is being faced by the Congress following Satpal Maharaj quitting the party.