Declaring election candidates: Cong, BJP play cat and mouse game in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : Though elections to Uttarakhand vidhan sabha, scheduled for February, are just over two months away, both the major political parties, the BJP and Congress, seem to be playing a cat and mouse game as far as declaring their candidates are concerned. It is quite obvious an attempt to catch the other off guard.

Though normal practice in both the parties have been that the sitting legislators will automatically be given the party ticket, except in case of some major constraint, but this time a number of legislators and ministers, including chief minister B C Khanduri are seeking a change in their constituencies.

A reason for this is said to be the delimitation of the constituencies that was done because of which some chunks of a number of constituencies have been cut off and added to other constituencies.

Because of this the vote pockets of some of the sitting legislators has been disturbed and they are seeking fresher pastures.

Taking the example of the chief minister himself, he is an elected legislator from the Dhumakot assembly segment in Pauri district of Uttarakhand, but party sources here confirmed that he would not be contesting from there in the coming elections.

Khanduri is opting to contest from the Kotdwara assembly segment, which was part of the Pauri district but has been declared a new district on papers.

It is not only Khanduri, but there are other BJP heavyweights who too are seeking a change for contesting, which has put the BJP high command in a quandary.

As an easy way out, the BJP top brass has asked some private organizations to undertake a survey of the various assembly segments on which candidate has the best chances of winning, which will help in taking a final decision.

As far as the Congress is concerned, it is also sailing in the same boat as some of its heavyweights are also seeking new assembly segments because of the changes due to the delimitation.

In fact, top names like former minister Amrita Rawat, wife of Satpal Maharaj who contested from Bhuronkhal is now opting to contest from Chuabatkhal.

Likewise Yashpal Arya, a likely chief minister candidate from the Congress finds his Mukteshwar assembly segment having been announced open and as such is searching for a reserved seat from where to contest.

Also the leader of the opposition Harak Singh Rawat who contested from Lansdowne assembly segment is now wanting to shift to Doiwala.

However, both the Congress and the BJP are both keeping their cards close to the chest, to catch the other off guard.

Though insiders in the party let Hill Post know that some of the candidates have been told, albeit on the quiet and the warning not to make it public, from where they are likely to be made candidates from and they should start working silently so that they are not found wanting when the time comes.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.