Dehradun: Political fate of Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s wife Renuka, first woman DGP Kanchan Chaudhry Bhattacharya and former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saket and 71 others will be sealed when the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand will go to polls tomorrow.
There are about 70 lakh voters in the five seats – Pauri, Tehri, Nainital, Almora (SC) and Haridwar where a straight contest between BJP and Congress appears to be on the cards.
Reflecting the personality-centric nature of the electioneering, BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Rawat of Congress are emerging as ‘poster boys’ in the respective party campaigns.
In Haridwar, Rawat’s prestige is at stake with his wife Renuka battling it out with former chief minister and BJP nominee Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank.
AAP nominee and the country’s first woman DGP Bhattacharya is also in the fray from Haridwar, represented in Lok Sabha by Rawat himself in 2009.
Population wise, Haridwar is the largest constituency in Uttarakhand with more than 16 lakh voters. Both Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Modi have held impressive rallies in the district.
The chief minister has taken the entire charge of campaigning for Congress in the state holding back-to-back rallies in different areas on a daily basis.
He is arguing that if poll verdict is not in favour of the party it may adversely affect the stability of his government and will not augur well for the development of the state.
Another interesting contest is in the offing at Tehri Lok Sabha seat where the daughter-in-law of erstwhile Tehri royal family Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah of BJP and Bahuguna’s son Saket of Congress are battling it out against each other for the second time.
Saket had lost to Shah in the 2012 bypoll after his father vacated it when he took over the reigns of power in the state.
Rawat, who is campaigning single-handedly for the party elsewhere, has left the onus entirely on his predecessor to canvass for his son.
Bahuguna, who resigned after his leadership skills came under scrutiny in the wake of 2013 natural calamity, is trying to cash in on the popular image his father Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna to give Saket an edge over Shah.
Shah, who entered the Lok Sabha from the seat in October 2012 making the most of public anger in the wake of the cap on LPG cylinders imposed by the Centre, hopes to return to the Lower House riding on ‘Modi wave’ this time.
The fight for Pauri seat is also being keenly watched with former BJP chief minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri and popular young Congress leader Harak Singh Rawat pitted against each other.
Though Khanduri, who has won the seat four times in the past, is a formidable opponent, Harak Singh, who represents the Rudraprayag seat in the state assembly, enjoys a connect with people.
In an apparent shot in the arm for Khanduri, sitting Pauri MP and former Congress heavyweight Satpal Maharaj switched over to BJP. Satpal’s following both as a political and spiritual leader is also likely to boost Khanduri’s chances of winning the seat.
The chances of former BJP chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s, who is pitted against sitting Congress MP K C Singh Baba in Nainital Lok Sabha seat, appear good as he can expect support from eight assembly segments out of 14 in the constituency that are with the saffron party. 57-year-old Baba is the erstwhile king of Kumaon.
In Almora, sitting Congress MP Pradeep Tamta is in the fray against BJP’s Ajay Tamta, who is an MLA. While the BJP nominee hopes to make it to the Lok Sabha propelled by the Modi wave, the Congress MP is banking on the performances of both central and state governments for his victory.
There are 70.43 lakh voters in Uttarakhand where 10,094 polling booths and 7,471 polling stations have been set up to conduct the exercise.