Khatima, Srinagar among several seats to see keen contest in U"khand

  • | Monday | 24th January, 2022

Dehradun, Jan 24 (PTI) With both Congress and BJP announcing their candidates for a majority of seats for the February 14 polls in Uttarakhand, the stage is set for an interesting contest in several constituencies, including Khatima where Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami is contesting. Among the seats where prominent leaders are in the fray are Haridwar, Nainital, Chakrata and Srinagar. Dhami, who is looking to break the trend of incumbent chief ministers losing in polls in Uttarakhand, takes on the working president of the Congress" state unit, Bhuwan Chandra Kapri, once again in Khatima. He had defeated Kapri in 2017 assembly polls by a margin of 2,709 votes. In 2012, he had defeated Devendra Chand of the  Congress by more than 5,000 votes.           The presence of the Aam Aadmi Party"s former state president SS Kaler may give a new twist to the contest on the seat which Dhami has been winning for two consecutive elections. "This time the contest in Khatima is far from being smooth. Incumbent CMs never win in Uttarakhand. Nityanand Swamy lost in 2002, BC Khanduri lost in 2012 and Harish Rawat lost both the seats he contested in 2017," political analyst JS Rawat said.            ND Tiwari, the only chief minister of Uttarakhand to complete the five-year term, did not contest in 2007 when he was the sitting chief minister, he said. "As tradition has it, chief ministerial candidates in Uttarakhand have to fight not only their opponents on the other side but also rivals within,"  Rawat said. The sizeable population of Sikhs and farmers in Khatima may also work against Dhami as, despite the withdrawal of the three farm laws, the issue is still alive, he said. Pradesh BJP president Madan Kaushik"s unbroken winning streak from Haridwar (city) seat faces a challenge from Congress" Satpal Brahmachari, a seer who has been fielded against him for a second time after 2012. Brahmachari"s performance as former chairman of Haridwar Nagar Palika, his clean image and the anti-incumbency against Kaushik may make the fight in the constituency close, political observers maintained. Leader of Opposition in Uttarakhand Assembly Pritam Singh faces popular Bollywood singer Jubin Nautiyal"s father Ramsharan Nautiyal in Chakrata, his bastion which he has won in all four elections held in the state earlier. Defeating Singh whose family has wielded considerable influence in the area for generations will be a challenge for Nautiyal but Jubin has offered to campaign aggressively for his father and may attract youth voters, observers said. Srinagar seat also has an interesting contest on the cards as state Congress president Ganesh Godiyal has been fielded against arch-rival and Cabinet minister Dhan Singh Rawat from the seat which Congress and BJP have been winning alternately. Godiyal had defeated Rawat on the seat in 2012 but lost to him in 2017. It would be interesting to see what happens on the seat this time when Godiyal enters the fray as the PCC president. A stiff contest is likely in Nainital also where prominent Dalit leader from Kumaon Yashpal Arya"s son and sitting MLA Sanjeev Arya is pitted against BJP"s Sarita Arya who quit the Congress recently to join the saffron party. Gangotri seat considered crucial as conventionally the party that wins from there forms the government in the state will also be keenly watched as it awaits a triangular contest between the BJP, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party which has fielded its chief ministerial candidate Col Ajay Kothiyal from there. The seat is in BJP"s kitty at present. Late Gopal Singh Rawat of the BJP had won from Gangotri in 2017 defeating Vijaypal Sajwan of the Congress. The BJP has fielded Suresh Chauhan from the seat who will take on both Kothyal and Sajwan who had won the seat in 2002 and 2012. The BJP has announced candidates for 59 out of the total 70 assembly seats in Uttarakhand in its first list while Congress has announced a list of 53 candidates. Eleven more candidates from the BJP and 17 from the Congress are yet to be announced. It will be interesting to see from where Harish Rawat, head of the Congress" campaign in the state, and Harak Singh Rawat, who was recently expelled from the BJP and joined the Congress, will contest if they decide to join the fray. PTI ALM RT RT

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