Uttarakhand throws up a hung assembly

Dehradun : The election results of the viddhan sabha elections held in Uttarakhand on Jan 30 have given a hung mandate, which was initially first predicted by Hill Post about a fortnight before the elections were held.

Incidentally, all newspapers were then predicting the Congress to come to power and the BJP to finish a poor second.

The tally that has finally emerged is Congress 32, the BJP a close second with 31, BSP three, UKD ‘P’ one and others three in a House of 70, with none reaching the all important figure of 36.

Under the prevailing circumstances, even if the Congress allies with the BSP, they just reach 35, one short of the magic figure and if the BJP allies with the BSP they are two short. In either case the help of independents will have to be taken to from the next government.

However, the hung assembly has only been on predictable lines and there have been some surprises. First almost all political observers, including die hard BJP supporters were of the view that the Congress would emerge a clear winner and get atleast a simple majority on its own, but that was not to be.

The BJP, which was almost written off and expected to get just about 20-25 seats, has emerged a close second and could upset the Congress apple cart if it manages tie up with the BSP and some independents.

The second surprise has been the loss of chief minister Maj Gen B C Khanduri from the Kotdwara assembly segment by a margin of about 4000 votes.

Khanduri had replaced Ramesh Pokhriyal as chief minister to help the BJP restore its dipping popularity graph and he was made the poster boy of the BJP during the elections.

But the man who managed to save the party’s sinking ship and bring it into contention, could not remain afloat himself.

The third is the fall of the BSP from the 10 seats it had in the last vidhan sabha to just three this time.

Obviously, the fall out of being rejected in Uttar Pradesh also had its ramifications in Uttarakhand, specially in the immediate adjoining areas.

The fourth has been the near rout of the Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha, an outfit floated by former minister Mj Gen T P S Rawat in the hope of making it a third alternative by encashing the vote bank of the large serving and ex-servicemen in the state.

Former information minister Indra Hridesh of the Congress won from the Haldwani assembly segment by a record margin of 33000 votes.

With the results declared and the people having given a hung mandate, the ball is obviously in the court of Uttarakhand governor Margaret Alva.

A Congress person, she is obviously going to ask the leader of the Congress legislature to form the government, as it is the single largest party and prove its strength on the floor of the House.

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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