By Vineet Upadhyay
DEHRADUN: As senior Congress leader Harish Rawat threw the gauntlet ahead of the by-poll at Champawat in Uttarakhand, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is in no mood to take any chances as it looked for a smooth passage for Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami.
As CM Dhami filed his nominations from Champawat, sources in the party said that central, as well as the state leadership, is trying to ensure that there is no ‘sabotage’ like earlier. Dhami has lost the Khatima seat by more than 6500 seats in the 2022 assembly elections.
“The party leadership has enrolled people from across ‘factions’. Responsibilities have been fixed to ensure that there are no attempts of sabotage,” said a party source.
While the party’s state general secretary (organisation) Ajay Kumar is overseeing the party’s campaign in the constituency, cabinet minister Chandan Ram Das has been appointed as the minister-in-charge for the by-poll and Kailash Sharma as the party’s in-charge for the by-poll. A team has also been constituted by the party to supervise the by-poll along with dozens of party workers, who are camping in the constituency.
Devendra Bhasin, state vice-president of the Uttarakhand unit of the BJP said, “We are going to win these by-polls by a historical margin. People of the state trust the CM for his visionary work. The Congress has already surrendered because they know well that they do not stand a chance.”
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 50000 votes. Dhami is believed to have considerable influence over the areas which was visible when he campaigned for the BJP candidate in the 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 the third position.
In 2017, Kailash Chandra Gahtori won by the margin of 17,360 votes repeating his electoral success yet again in 2022 polls with 5304 votes.
Political experts believe that the electoral fight is going to be one-sided.
“The Congress has an obviously weaker candidate in Nirmala Gahtori and the BJP has a good track record on this seat. Besides, there is a stark difference in the situation before the polls. The CM is likely to gain an easy win,” said Dinesh Mansera, Haldwani based political commentator.
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