Uttarakhand: Political history

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.




Governments in Uttarakhand (and UP): 2000-2022
From: March 11, 2022: The Times of India

See graphic:

Governments in Uttarakhand (and UP): 2000-2022

Chief Ministers

Sitting CMs lose: 2000-22

March 11, 2022: The Times of India

Dehradun:Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, who contested from Khatima, lost the election to Congress’s Bhuwan Chandra Kapri by a margin of 6,579 votes. Kapri secured 51. 9% of votes while Dhami’s vote share was 44. 8%.

Not just Dhami but his prime challenger, Harish Rawat, who was being seen as the frontrunner to the CM post had Congress come to power, also lost from the Lalkuan seat. Rawat lost to BJP’s Mohan Singh Bisht by over 17,500 votes. The former CM got 28,780 votes against 46,307 votes received by Bisht. After his poll defeat, Rawat put out a tweet apologising to people of Lalkuan for ‘not being able to win their confidence. ’

Rawat had earlier said the party will win over 45 of the 70 seats. Rawat had in fact thrown a party for Congress workers before results were announced.

Interestingly, another ‘CM face’, Aam Aadmi Par- ty’s chief ministerial candidate Colonel Ajay Kothiyal (retired) also couldn’t win from Gangotri. Kothiyal finished a distant third, securing 6,161 votes. His vote share was 10. 3%. BJP’s Suresh Singh Chauhan won from the seat by a thumping margin.

Incidentally, Uttarakhand has a poll trend of sitting CMs not being able to retain their seats. In 2012, former chief minister BC Khanduri was defeated from Kotdwar assembly seat and five years later, the then chief minister Harish Rawat had lost from Haridwar Rural and Kiccha constituencies. Dhami’s poll loss this time has made the jinx only stronger.

Daughters of 2 ex-CMs ‘avenge’ dads’ defeat: 2022

March 11, 2022: The Times of India

Two daughters set out to “avenge” their fathers’ defeat in past
Uttarakhand polls by going up against the very men responsible for it. On Thursday, they managed to do just that. BJP’s Ritu Khanduri Bhushan, daughter of former CM B C Khanduri, won by 3,687 votes against Congress’ Surendra Singh Negi in Kotdwar.

Negi had defeated the senior Khanduri in the 2012 assembly polls. Meanwhile, Congress’ Anupama Rawat, daughter of former CM Harish Rawat, won the contest against BJP’s Swami Yatishwaranand from the Haridwar (rural) seat. Yatishwaranand had defeated her father from the seat in 2017. TNN

Ownership of assets by political parties

Partywise increase in average assets, 2012-17; The Times of India, Feb 9, 2017

See graphic

Partywise increase in average assets, 2012-17

Bengalis of East Bengal origin

“East Pakistan” removed from caste certificates

Kautilya Singh, The Times of India

A longstanding demand of over 3.5 lakh members of the Bengali community that had migrated to the hill state from erstwhile East Pakistan has been fulfilled after the Uttarakhand chief minister announced that the government would stop stamping “East Pakistan” on caste certificates issued to them.

Chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, “I’m aware of problems faced by people in my home district. It is a long pending demand.” Dhami’s decision comes ahead of next year’s state polls and may help BJP consolidate its base among Bengali voters, a sizeable chunk in Dhami’s home turf of Udham Singh Nagar district.

Earlier, Dhami had held discussions with Saurabh Bahuguna, BJP MLA from Sitarganj, and members of the displaced Bengali community. “It is a shame that East Pakistan is still being mentioned in caste certificates. Neighbouring Uttar Pradesh had stopped this practice around 15 years ago,” Bahuguna told TOI.

“In 2018, we had approached the then CM but the meeting did not bear fruit. Now, Dhami has assured us that this change would be brought,” he said.

Lakhs of Bengali families had migrated to Uttarakhand between1956 and1970, many of them from the border areas of Khulna, Jessore and Faridpur. A majority was settled in Udham Singh Nagar. Over the past decades, they have staged frequent protests to get the stamp removed from their caste certificate — a document meant to certify that an individual belongs to a particular religion, caste and community and which is required to avail of government schemes and benefits.

On Friday, members of the community said their decades-long struggle to “truly belong” has finally ended. “It wasn’t just our ancestors whose certificates carried this tag, even the caste documents of people like me born here in India had the stamp,” said Uttam Datta, a businessman, whose family had moved from Noakhali to Rudrapur in 1964. Datta said that he was relieved that their future generations would no longer face the embarrassment he did. “It hurt me every time to look at that document,” he said.

Sanjay Bachar, vice president of Bengali Kalyan Samiti, is also among those born in India, but whose certificates have an “East Pakistan” stamp. “This was a blot on our community and we are relieved the government will do away with this,” he said.

CM's official bungalow


Yogesh Kumar, Rawat moves into `jinxed' CM bungalow, Mar 30, 2017: The Times of India

Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat shifted to the Uttarakhand CM's official bungalow at New Cantt Road in Dehradun.

The building has for long carried a tag of being jinxed due to the belief in political circles that the CM who stays there will not be able to complete his full term. The previous CM, Harish Rawat, had preferred to use the state government's official guest house, lending further credence to the rumours.

Refusing to be spooked, Trivendra Rawat had indicated soon after taking over as CM that he would be using the official residence.

Nevertheless, he decided to make the shift on the second day of the Navratra season, considered auspicious for new beginnings, after con ducting a two-hour-long puja along with his wife and two daughters. Many of his cabinet ministers like Satpal Maharaj, Harak Singh Rawat, Prakash Pant, Yashpal Arya and Madan Kaushik as well as state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt were in attendance.

A close aide of Rawat told TOI on Wednesday that there was “no vastu dosh in the house and so experts were not needed.“ He said the rituals conducted were that of a “usual griha pravesh ceremony.“ He said the CM wanted “to keep things simple and so no expensive furniture would be kept in the house.“ “The family use only five of the 60 rooms in the house. The CM has also asked that the swimming pool be closed since operating it will mean wastage of water at a time when the state is grappling with water shortage,“ he said. The CM's official bunga low, designed in the traditional pahari style, was built in 2010 at an estimated cost of Rs 16 crore and is spread over an area of 10 acres. It had no occupant for over three years because of its `jinxed' tag.

The CMs who have stayed here ­­ Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Maj General (retd) BC Khanduri and Vijay Bahuguna ­­ could not complete their full terms.

Asked about the house's unsavoury reputation, ex-CM Bahuguna said it was “idle talk.“ “Harish Rawat stayed away from the house but he lost polls from two seats. This is just idle talk circulated by rumour-mongers.“

Chief ministers

Full term, till 2021 March

Only ND Tiwari completed full term

Since Uttarakhand was carved out of UP in November 2000, only one chief minister, N D Tiwari, has been able to complete his full term of five years. T S Rawat was a close second, as his tenure was nine days short of four years. The first CM of Uttarakhand, Nityanand Swami, held the post for a little less than a year. Political analyst Udit Ghildiyal told TOI, “Internal bickering within both Congress and BJP has always existed as a result of which most CMs have failed to complete the full term.” TNN

Male: female ratio

2017: Women outnumber men in 6 seats

Kautilya Singh, Women voters outnumber men in 6 Uttarakhand seats, Feb 15, 2017: The Times of India

Bucking the trend of fewer women voters than men in most assembly seats across the country , the women outnumbers male electors in six constituencies of Uttarakhand and are almost equal in terms of their numbers in at least five other seats. The six seats are Kedarnath (women: 42,055; men: 40,738), Pauri (women: 45,909; men: 45,753), Chaubattakhal (women: 44,326 women; men: 43,663), Dharchula (women: 42,253; men: 41,590 men), Didihat (women: 41,596; men: 39,083) and Dwarahat (women: 46,163; men 43,438). Interestingly, all the po litical parties, in their campaigns for these seats, have focused on issues raised by women, especially their demand for a curb on the sale of liquor in the hills.

Incidentally , women are at the centrestage of the po litical battle in Kedarnath where a straight fight is expected between BJP's Shaila Rani Rawat, who defected from Congress last year, and Asha Nautiyal, who was earlier in BJP but is now contesting as an Independent after being denied a ticket.

Both candidates have been trying to woo the female voters by pursuing outreach programmes in the villages and also through gestures like cutting grass with the women and sharing meals with them.

Superstitions, coincidences

March, the ides of Till 2021

Kautilya Singh, March 9, 2021: The Times of India

Why March is a volatile month for Uttarakhand politics

DEHRADUN: The month of March has a dubious distinction linked with witnessing some major political turmoil in the Himalayan state.

It was in March 2016 when an effort was made to topple the Harish Rawat government when a group of MLAs revolted against the CM. Then, in March last year, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat sprung a surprise by declaring Gairsain as the summer capital which shook up the politics in the Himalayan state. This year, too, it is in March that the CM announced the decision to make Gairsian into a commisionary incorporating the districts of Kumaon. The move is said to have greatly incensed the BJP MLAs from Kumaon and a political crisis has ensued in the state with a change of guard likely.

Political analyst Jay Singh Rawat told TOI, “March has a special connection with the politics of Uttarakhand as this is the month when a new government is formed after each election. Also, the budget session – which is usually passed in March – becomes extremely important.”

Incidentally, it was during the budget session in 2016 that the Harish Rawat government faced rebellion from its own MLAs. Five years on, it is again during the budget session that the Trivendra Rawat government, too, faced uncertainty with the saffron party MLAs being called to Dehradun to meet the party observers and the session wound up in a hurry.

‘Jinxed’ official bungalow

Focus on ‘jinxed’ official bungalow/ 2021

Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat’s resignation has once again strengthened the belief in political circles that anyone who moves into the official residence of the chief minister located on Cantt Road in Dehradun will not be able to complete his term, reports Kautilya Singh. The building has for long carried a tag of being ‘jinxed’ since its previous occupants Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and thereafter Vijay Bahuguna were ousted before they could finish their term.

Ritual animal sacrifice during elections

Shivani Azad, As poll nears, sacrifice of animals hits high gear, Feb 13, 2017: The Times of India

Polls in the hills are around the bend, now's the time to please gods and voters with feasts, pujas and animal sacrifices at select temples of Uttarkashi and the Jaunsar Bawar region of Garhwal.

The feasts are on, several of them were held recently in the villages of Chakrata. Sacrificial goat meat offered to the gods was distributed among villagers, sources say . No villager will say which politician organised the sacrifice, but it's an open secret that this is a key poll-time ritual.

Priests say winning candidates often offer animal sacrifices. “At shrines like Gabella's Kukarshi temple, the Chalda Mahasu temple at Chakrata and Kachnu devta in Uttarkashi, such sacrifices happen, but after a candidate has won. That too, if the winner has pledged a sacrifice to the gods,“ says Mohan Lal Semwal, purohit, Mahasu devta temple.



Char Dham Devsthanam Management: takeover of 50 shrines

Yogesh Kumar, January 15, 2020: The Times of India

DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand governor Baby Rani Maurya on Tuesday gave her assent to the Char Dham Devsthanam Management Bill 2019 and it would now pave way for the state government to take over of 50 shrines in the state, including Char Dham — Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.

Officials at the governor secretariat confirmed the development and said that the Bill has been passed on to the state government’s law department for further discussion on the date of notification before implementation.

In the board, an IAS officer will hold the post of CEO while CM will be the president and there will be other members such as MLAs, MPs and member of the Tehri royal family. Sources said that the appointments in the board and a head office in Dehradun would be made in the next few months.

The board will bring Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and 51 other temples in the hill state under the ambit of the state government and will also result in the dismantling of the existing temple managements such as the Badri-Kedar Temple Committee. The provisions and composition of the Bill will be like the Vaishno Devi shrine board and Tirupati Balaji shrine board.

Meanwhile, local priests and Congress MLA from Kedarnath Manoj Rawat threatened to launch a protest against the Bill and said that it is against the interests of the priests’ community. Rawat said, “The state government is ruining the century-old Hindu traditions set up by Adi Shankaracharya for Char Dham. This government is doing something which even the British couldn’t do.”

Rawat added that unlike Vaishno Devi, Char Dham has everything in place. “From rituals to appointments and tenure of priests, everything is in place in Char Dham. The takeover will mean dismantling a perfect system that is in place. Why does the government even want that?”

Badrinath priest Ashutosh Semwal said, “Our community is opposed to the new board as it will undermine the existing system. We will soon hold a meeting of all priests to decide the next course of action.”

However, state government spokesperson and Haridwar MLA Madan Kaushik said that the system of head priests, which was set up by Adi Shankaracharya, will continue as it is. “The new board will not interfere in the daily operational affairs. It will just manage donations and the money would be used to develop the shrines.”

2021/ July: Pushkar Singh Dhami becomes CM

Kautilya Singh, July 4, 2021: The Times of India

Pushkar Singh Dhami, a two-time MLA from Khatima in Udham Singh Nagar, will be Uttarakhand’s third chief minister in four months. Giving preference to youth over experience, BJP named the 45-yearold as the 11th chief minister of the state, replacing Tirath Singh Rawat.

Dhami will be the youngest to take over the CM’s chair in the 21-year history of the Himalayan state.

Sources said that by naming Dhami, the saffron party has tried to strike a balance between two key factors in Uttarakhand politics — the Thakur-Brahmin equation and the Garhwal-Kumaon factor. “Both Tirath Rawat as well as state BJP chief Madan Kaushik represent Garhwal. With the two key posts having been in Garhwal’s kitty, BJP has now preferred a leader from Kumaon area to strike a balance and send a message to the electorate in Kumaon,” a source said, adding that the choice also balances the caste dynamics as Kaushik is a Brahmin while Dhami is a Thakur. “The choice of Dhami is intended to keep Thakurs — a sizeable part of the electorate — happy ahead of the forthcoming state elections,” the source added.

Focus will be on youth welfare, says Dhami

Pushkar Singh Dhami’s name was proposed in the BJP legislature party meeting in the afternoon by outgoing chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat. State BJP chief Madan Kaushik extended support to the proposal and it was unanimously approved by the ministers and MLAs. The oath-taking ceremony of the new chief minister is likely to take place on Sunday evening.

Dhami said he was ready to take on the challenge. “I am aware that I have limited time but I want to assure everyone that I will make all possible efforts to work for the welfare of people. Our party has taken some major decisions in the last four years and I will continue the good work of my predecessors,” he said, adding that he has been a part of youth politics and his focus would be on youth welfare.

The new chief minister, political observers said, will have his work cut out trying to work in tandem with senior party functionaries, many of whom were in the race for the chief minister’s post. Having had no experience of working as a minister, he will have to quickly learn the ropes and also strike a rapport with party members as well as the cadre in Garhwal region, where he is relatively unknown.

Repeated gaffes, Kumbh testing scam, lack of political savviness may have hurt Tirath

Tirath Singh Rawat’s spate of controversial remarks, whether it was on women’s ripped jeans or equating Modi with god, after taking over as CM had made many in BJP uncomfortable. Also, the Kumbh testing scam proved to be an embarrassment, reports Kautilya Singh. Many in the party felt he was “too simple” and not politically savvy enough to manage the ambitions of his MLAs and lead BJP successfully in the coming state polls, sources said. Further, the indecision regarding finalising a bypoll seat in time may have cost Tirath dearly.

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