In the do and die battle for the ruling Congress in Uttarakhand, only good performance at hills and plane can keep it away from defeat. In the last election in the state, the party did well in the hills while it’s main rival, the BJP in the plane. This election is expected to write a different script altogether as the saffron party is expected to perform well in the hills, while the Congress in the plane. Of the total 70 seats in the state, 30 seats are in the plain region with a significant presence of voters from the minority community. Udham Singh Nagar, Hardwar and Dehradun are three major districts which fall in the plain region. The Congress banked on these districts to defeat anti-incumbency factor and retain power back to it. But the resurgent BJP threw all its political might to unseat Harish Rawat-led Congress government. In this background, if enthusiasm among voters is counted as the factor behind more than 68 percent turnout of voters in the polls, it would not be difficult to speculate as to what shape of the next assembly would be when results are out on March 11. By far, however, elections for 69 of the total 70 assembly seats in Uttarakhand remained smooth and friction less affair. Election for Karnaprayag assembly seat was countermanded following the death of BSP candidate Kuldip Singh Kanwasi in a road accident. On March 9, this high profile seat will go for the polls. Yet this election of Uttrakhand will be remembered not because of high turnout of voters, but because of Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s valiant attempt to save the party from its humiliating defeat. As many as 12 leaders, including former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, popular Dalit face of the party, Yashpal Arya and firebrand Harak Singh Rawat left the party a few months before the assembly election. As if it was not enough, the veteran Congress leader N D Tiwari along with his son Rohit Shekhar also left the party. Nonetheless, more than 75 lakh voters participated in the election to decide the fate for 628 candidates in the fray.
There was no wave for any particular party in this election. But then issues like corruption, unemployment and underdevelopment were played upon by the BJP to undercut the performance of the Harish Rawat government. To strengthen the Congress’ strategy in the state, experts like Prashant Kishor’s services were used. With this, disgruntlement among rank and file of the party increased. Even the BJP was not out of its problem. Distribution of tickets to all those who deserted the Congress to join the saffron party led to huge resentment among the party workers. All those BJP leaders who were denied tickets, turned rebellion and they stood against the party’s official candidates. At one time, it appeared that the saffron party would not be able to challenge a diffident Congress. As the election came nearer and nearer, the party found some life to propel its move across the state. But then spark was seen in the eyes of both the Congress and the BJP leaders as in the high turnout of voters they saw their chances. In comparison to the last assembly polls in Uttarakhand when more than 67 percent turnout was recorded, this time the voters’ participation was overwhelming as over 68 percent polling was registered across the state, a good sign for democracy, indeed.