Campaigning ends in Uttarakhand

Dehradun : Though there has not been much of din and slogan shouting, courtesy the inclement weather that was prevailing for quite some time in Uttarakhand, but the little that there was will also come to an end this evening, even as over 63,80,000 voters will practice their franchise on Jan 30.

They will decide the fate of the 788 candidates, including 63 women, who are in the fray for the 70 seats in the vidhan sabha. Though the ruling BJP and the Congress are the two main political parties in the fray, there are others also including the BSP, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, Raksha Morcha and the Samajwadi Party.

As many as 2754 political parties will leave for the interiors and hinterlands of this small mountain state to man the 9806 polling booths, of which 1794 have been classified as sensitive and another 1252 as very sensitive, where the police and para-military forces will be observing extra vigil.

Though electioneering was normally at a low key, but there were quite a few allegations of money and booze being used to woo the voters. The election observers recovered over 12,777 litres of liquor and Rs 1.30 crores in cash, which they themselves admit could have been the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Meanwhile bookmakers are busy as bets are being placed on who will form the next government in the state. The favourite is Congress, which is why the odds are higher on the BJP. But there are quite a few who are laying their bet on a hung House and no party getting a clear cut majority.

Political observers here claim that one of the reasons why there is talk of a hung House and no party getting a clear cut majority, is the fact that the military and ex-military voters in the state are divided this time. While the Congress and the BJP were wooing this vote bank from day one, their calculations were upset by the Raksha Morcha jumping into the fray.

Over 40 per cent of the voters in the state comprise army and ex-army personnel who are spread all over the state. While B C Khanduri, who is the face that the BJP has put forward to woo the voters is making inroads into the military vote bank for the party, the Congress has roped in Maj Gen, G S Negi to take care of the army rank and file votes.

However, the apple cart of both the Congress and BJP has been spoilt by the Raksha Morcha, which is headed by Mj Gen T P S Rawat. Rawat who was first in the Congress and later in the BJP, has managed to wean away candidates from both the parties who are now contesting on the Morcha platform. Besides he conducted a number of meetings in the strongholds and pockets of ex-servicemen in the state to woo them.

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.

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