Uttarakhand: Assembly elections

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BJP wins  57 Of 70 seats, ousts Congress

Kautilya Singh, Bags 57 Of 70 Seats To Oust Cong, March 12, 2017: The Times of India

The region-wise performance of the parties in Uttarakhand in the assembly elections of 2012 and 2017; Kautilya Singh, Bags 57 Of 70 Seats To Oust Cong, March 12, 2017: The Times of India

BJP Scales New Heights In The Hills

In a landslide win -the biggest ever in Uttarakhand's electoral history -BJP has clinched 57 of the state's 70 seats. Congress was virtually decimated as what was termed a “huge Modi wave“ swept over the Himalayan state.

The ruling party , which had secured 32 seats in the 2012 elections, could manage only 11this time. Further compounding its woes, Harish Rawat, the party's tallest leader in the state, faced humiliating defeats in both the constituencies he contested from, Hardwar (rural) and Kichha.

Many of his cabinet ministers also lost their seats, as did state Congress chief Kishore Upadhyay . BJP's success was also marred by the party's state chief Ajay Bhatt losing from the Ranikhet seat.

Regional parties like Bahujan Samaj Party , Samajwadi Party and Uttarakhand Kranti Dal did not register any win. Many of the Independent candidates, who were expected to win in large numbers and play the role of kingmakers, fizzled out at the hustings with only two managing a win. Even before the final results were declared, chief minister Rawat went over to Raj Bhavan around 3pm and tendered his resignation to governor K K Paul. He later told reporters, “Being the leader of the party, I accept this defeat and the verdict of the people.“

He, however, did not fail to cast doubt over the role played by electronic voting machines (EVMs), which he seemed to suggest had been tampered with. Without elaborating on the matter, he quipped, “I salute Modi kranti (revolution) and the EVM chamatkar (magic).“

When queried about the reason for his party's rout, Rawat said that it was mainly because Congress could not convert the big turnout at party rallies into votes. “I just want to say that people have chosen the party to play the role of opposition and we will respect their decision,“ he added.

Even as celebrations continued in the BJP camp, speculation regarding the party's chief ministerial candidate began. Frontrunners being spoken of included former Union minister and Lok Sabha member Satpal Maharaj, who won the Chaubattakhal seat by a margin of 7,354 votes, as well as Trivendra Singh Rawat, BJP's Jharkhand statein-charge who won 58,502 votes, more than double the number his Congress rival Heera Singh Bisht got, to secure Doiwala.

Maharaj told TOI that BJP's landslide win was an indication of “what the people of Uttarakhand want“. “This voting has been done to weed out corruption from the state and to develop it as a role model for other states. The verdict has shown the faith people have in PM Narendra Modi, his leadership and vision,“ he said, adding that BJP would “give an excellent government to the state“.

Rawat loses both seats

Sheo S Jaiswal & Aakash Ahuja, Rawat loses both seats, face, March 12, 2017: The Times of India

Harish Rawat's gambit to contest from two constituencies, Hardwar (Rural) and Kichha, did not pay off on Saturday , as he lost from both. In Kichha, he lost to incumbent BJP MLA Rajesh Shukla, who was repeatedly heard telling voters on the campaign trail that being Congress' CM candidate, Rawat would move to Dehradun if the party won, leaving behind no one to address local problems.

The caste equation in Kiccha, where Shukla's caste is numerically the strongest, and dissidence within Congress' local unit were the other factors that hampered Rawat's campaign, as did the Modi factor. Modi addressed a rally on February 11 in Rudrapur that was attended by over 1 lakh people. Said local Congress member Ajay Singh, “After the CM largely stayed away from the constituency and the Modi wave struck, the result is not unexpected.“

In Hardwar (Rural), Rawat lost despite his daughter Anupama's active involvement with locals over a year and a half. The seat has been won by BJP's Yatishwaranand, who secured 44,964 votes against Rawat's 32,686.

A local school principal said traditional Congress voters had fallen away from the party . “Yatishwaranand...made it a point to contact nearly every voter. The CM had to take care of the entire state, he had no time to go door-to-door,“ he added.


The results

Kautilya Singh & Gaurav Talwar , March 11, 2022: The Times of India

The results of the elections held in 2022 for the legislative assembly of Uttarakhand.
From: March 11, 2022: The Times of India

See graphic:

The results of the elections held in 2022 for the legislative assembly of Uttarakhand.

Dehradun: What was being predicted as a ‘close contest’ turned out to be a one-sided affair with BJP winning or leading in 47 out of the 70 assembly constituencies in Uttarakhand at the time of going to press. Congress, which had been saying it was confident of securing a majority, had a win or lead in only 19 seats, while 2 seats each went to BSP and independents.

The victory came despite BJP facing anti-incumbency and several opinion polls also predicting a hung assembly. Incidentally, the ‘CM faces’ of all three major parties – Pushkar Singh Dhami of BJP, Harish Rawat of Congress and Col Ajay Kothiyal (retd) of AAP – lost.

Soon after results were announced, CM Dhami said “the fact that BJP has got 2/3rd majority is proof that people have voted in favour of those who have worked for the public good. ” Responding to his own electoral defeat, Dhami said that “whether I remain CM or not, work done by the BJP government will continue. ” He added that “soon after the new government is formed, a Uniform Civil Code will be implemented in the state as we had promised. ”

Meanwhile, speaking at BJP’s national headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday evening, PM Modi said BJP has “scripted history in Uttarakhand. ” “For the first time in Uttarakhand’s history, a party has come to power for a second term, which is a remarkable achievement,” the PM said.

Analysts attributed BJP’s win to a combination of factors, prominent among which is the party’s strong grassroots-level network and PM Modi’s popularity which remained intact among voters in the hills. “From the results, it is evident the Modi magic has worked in Uttarakhand for the fourth consecutive time after 2014, 2017 and 2019. He remains a popular figure and people tend to believe him,” said political analyst, Jay Singh Rawat.

That Modi’s appeal had worked among voters was evident from the fact that BJP won most seats in areas where the PM campaigned. “Modi held rallies in Dehradun, Almora, Haldwani and Srinagar and in all these areas, BJP did exceedingly well. ”

A BJP leader who did not wish to be named said, “We were anticipating 32-34 seats, but it seems the undercurrent in favour of Prime Minister Modi changed the whole scenario. ”

The BJP was also able to gain support of women voters, who outnumber men in several seats and form almost half of the over 82 lakh-strong electorate in the Himalayan state. “Women voters outnumber men voters by 4. 6% and it is evident BJP would not have had such a resounding win if it were not for women votes,” said Anoop Nautiyal, political expert.

The voters also bought into BJP’s poll pitch of ‘double-engine development’ and benefits brought by the Centre’s schemes. “Projects like ‘One Rank One Pension’, about which PM Modi spoke in his rallies, resonated with defence voters who form a substantial chunk of the electorate,” Rawat said.

And Congress proved to be no match for the BJP’s organisational network. The Congress is staring at a tough road ahead in the Himalayan state. Although it managed to improve its performance compared to 2017, it failed to capitalise on the perceived anti-incumbency against BJP.

Though the party improved its tally compared to the 11 seats it won in 2017, its dream of clinching power will remain just that for now. Ex-CM Harish Rawat had earlier said the party would win over 45 seats. Congress had hopes from districts like Almora and Nainital in Kumaon region, but it failed spectacularly.

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