DEHRADUN: With a list of 40 ‘Star Campaigners’, Bharatiya Janata Party is not leaving anything to chance in Champawat by-polls to get Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami elected to the state assembly.
The list includes Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, union ministers Anurag Thakur and Ajay Bhatt, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya, four Uttarakhand CMs – Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Vijay Bahuguna, Trivendra Singh Rawat, Tirath Singh Rawat, party’s national general secretary, Rajya Sabha MP Dushyant Gautam, former union minister Smriti Irani, national vice-president of Bhartiya Mahila Morcha, state cabinet ministers, MLAs and members of the party organisation as well.
Devendra Bhasin, vice-president of the Uttarakhand unit of the BJP said, “The list of campaigners for Champawat by-polls has been issued by the party high command. The schedule of public meetings and rallies will be finalized soon. The people have trusted the party and the CM to continue and our honourable CM will win the elections by record margins.”
A party insider told The New Indian that the high command has included leaders from various ‘factions’ to ensure there is no internal sabotage and everyone works in tandem.
Interestingly, no sitting CM has been able to win the assembly elections but all incumbent CMs have won the by-polls.
The biggest win was scored by former CM Vijay Bahuguna who won by the vote margin of 39,900 from the Sitarganj seat in the year 2012.
Former CM ND Tiwari contested by-polls from Ramnagar seat in the year 2002 and won by 4915 votes.
Former CM Harish Rawat contested from Dharchula seat in the year 2014 and won by more than 19000 votes.
Former CM BC Khanduri contested and won from Dhumakot seat in the year 2007.
Comparing other incumbent CMs elections to Dhami’s, Haldwani based political analyst Dinesh Mansera said, “Traditionally, every CM has won by-polls which favours CM Dhami. Any CM who loses his election but his party wins has the sympathy of the people. We have seen this trend right from BC Khanduri to Harish Rawat. Dhami may be junior in comparison to seniority and stature of Khanduri, Rawat, Bahuguna but even that is likely to work in his favour.”
The issues dominating the assembly seat include migration, lack of basic infrastructure, road, electricity, water supply, health and education facilities and unemployment, said the locals.
Vinod Chaturvedi, a resident of Champawat, said, “Champawat district shares 65kms border with Nepal so trade and other cross border activities take place the whole year. The area also lacks basic infrastructure due to which a lot of the population has migrated. Youth wants employment, hospitals, roads and other facilities.”
CM Dhami who belongs to the Thakur community is likely to benefit from the caste combination of votes. The seat has 54% of Thakur votes followed by 24% Brahmin voters, 18% Dalits and 4% Muslims.
Champawat seat was chosen by the party for the CM given the successful history of the party on the seat. The BJP has won a total of three times out of five elections.
Other reasons involved the proximity of Tanakpur and Banbasa towns which have around 50,000 votes where Dhami is believed to have a considerable influence which was visible when he campaigned for the BJP candidate in recently concluded assembly elections.
In the 2002 state assembly elections, which were the first assembly elections of Uttarakhand after its bifurcation from Uttar Pradesh in the year 2000, Indian National Congress’s Hemesh Kharakwal won by 395 votes defeating BJP’s Madan Maharana.
In the 2007 elections, BJP’s Bina Maharana won by 7058 votes against Congress’s Hemesh Kharakwal.
State assembly elections of the year 2012 were the worst for the party in this seat when party candidate Hema Joshi slipped to their position.
In the year 2017, Kailash Chandra Gahtori won by the margin of 17,360 votes repeating his electoral success yet again in 2022 polls with 5304 votes.
A total of 96016 voters will take part in voting scheduled on May 31 at 151 booths. Of the total 96016, 50057 are male voters while 45959 are female voters.
Political commentators believe that the Indian National Congress by fielding Nirmala Gahtori, Champawat district party chief has tried to put up a fight.
Jay Singh Rawat, a political commentator based in Dehradun commenting on the issue said, “Nirmala Gahtori has a good hold in the district which will be a task for the BJP. However, given the electoral history of incumbent CMs contesting the by-polls at this juncture, CM Dhami looks like gaining momentum.”