It will be tough going for Congress in Tehri

Dehra Dun : Though there is still time for the Lok Sabha polls in Uttarakhand, scheduled for May 7, and the campaigning be just about peak by that time, which will play a crucial role in wooing the undecided voters, but on the face of it, it appears that the Congress may have committed hara kiri in making Saket Bahuguna the candidate from the Tehri parliamentary constituency.

Saket Bahuguna With Father Vijay Bahuguna
Saket Bahuguna With Father Vijay Bahuguna

Not that there is anything against Saket, who also happens to be the son of former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and nephew of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief and party Lucknow candidate, Rita Joshi, but the fact that he lost the last by-election from this very parliamentary constituency just about a year back is what is going against the ambitious young man.

If political pundits here are to be believed, when Saket contested the by-election from Tehri, a seat vacated by his father on being made the chief minister of Uttarakhand, the dice was packed in his favor. Here was a young and energetic man with a corporate background and the background of a political family of Garhwal, being the grandson of the illustrious son-of-the-soil Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna.

They claim that his father was the chief minister of the state, and a message was by and large conveyed to the voters, that the assembly segments which gave a lead to the congress candidate would have the blessings of the chief minister in allocating developmental works to the region and earmarking funds from the state budget for various infrastructural works.

“One must also realize the fact that the complete state government machinery was at the disposal of the Congress candidate, and one knows how this factor is abused by the ruling party during electioneering. And mind you this was just a by-election in which the chief minister’s son was the candidate so we can but presume how much of this factor was in play”, they contended.

Political pundits went on to say then there was the unwritten or unspoken message that the legislators who gave the maximum lead form their assembly segments, could be promoted to the post of ministers, or parliamentary secretaries and presidents of the district Congress committees who showed good results could be made chairmen of state bodies.

They contended that as it was a by-election the entire party machinery and the state leadership was spread through the length and breadth of the Tehri constituency working for the Congress candidate and as such even the die hard BJP loyalists admitted that the odds were packed highly in favor of Saket Bahuguna. Yet he lost to the BJP candidate, who though from the Royal Tehri family was in herself, a political green horn.

And now all these factors which would have contributed to the success of Saket Bahuguna are amiss. Plus, if political observers here are to be believed, is the negative factor of the manner in which the rescue and relief operations were taken up in the flood ravaged areas post June 16-17, when a tragedy of mammoth proportions hit the Kedarnath region, by his father Vijay Bahuguna who was chief minister at the time.

In fact a major part of the flood ravaged region is yet to come to terms with the restoration works as link roads have still to be made, bridges yet to be put up and the debris lying along the roadsides. This is going to go against the Congress candidate in the flood-hit areas for the people in general feel that not only was there absolute delay and apathy in handling the relief and restoration works, but there was large scale misappropriation of relief material and money.

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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