Assembly Polls: Top heavy and other BJP problems in Uttarakhand

Resentment in Uttarakhand BJP’s middle and lower ranks is leading to desertions as recent entrants grab party tickets; BJP also has to contend with many claimants for the post of CM, in case it wins

Photo by Vinay Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Vinay Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Abid Shah

Party hopping by senior leaders in poll-bound Uttarakhand is virtually becoming the norm rather than the exception. This was set off many months before election season, when former Congress Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna broke ranks to join BJP. As many as 14 Congress strongmen have joined BJP ever since Bahuguna jumped the fence. Now Congress minister Yashpal Arya has followed suit, along with his son Sanjeev Arya and former Congress MLA Kedar Singh Rawat.

Thus, the BJP has turned out to be a top heavy party in Uttarakhand. And in turn this has resulted in resentment among the middle and lower ranks of the party, culminating in desertions by some that may cost the BJP dearly in the February 15 assembly polls.

Jagtar Singh, an influential Jat Sikh BJP leader from Bazpur near Yashpal Arya’s bastion of Nainital in Kumaon, joined Congress on January 17 at Dehradun, along with his wife Sunita Bajwa Tamta, who is the niece of Union Minister of State Ajay Tamta. Her move will give the Congress some more heft among Dalits, after Pradeep Tamta was made a Rajya Sabha MP by Congress recently, courtesy Chief Minister Harish Rawat.

Yashpal Arya often flaunted his hold among the Dalit segment, but today’s developments have belied this. Arya’s son Sanjeev has been given the BJP ticket from Nainital. Similarly, former BJP Chief Minister BC Khanduri’s daughter Ritu Khanduri Bhushan too has bagged a party ticket, along with Saurabh Bahuguna, younger son of Vijay Bahuguna.

This is despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s refrain vis-à-vis discouraging tickets to relatives of party leaders. Thus, after such ticket distribution, dissent was only to be expected. Informed sources reveal that a BJP member of the outgoing assembly Vijaya Bharatwal is also in touch with Congress, after her constituency was taken away by Ritu Khanduri Bhushan.

BJP also has a headache of several claimants for the post of Chief Minister, in case the party does romp home in the February 15 polls. In addition to its existing leaders BC Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and Bhagat Singh Koshyari, it now has to contend with the aspirations of Congress imports Satpal Maharaj, Vijay Bahuguna and Harak Singh Rawat, besides Yashpal Arya.

Meanwhile, having steered his government neatly out of a mid-term rebel-induced survival crisis, winning a confidence vote in the assembly decisively, Congress CM Harish Rawat is going into the assembly polls with no such challenge.

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Published: 17 Jan 2017, 10:35 PM