First Cong list out, both parties waiting for their rivals to announce candidates on contentious seats
Dehradun, Jan 23
The much awaited first list of party candidates of Congress party for the Uttarakhand assembly elections was finally declared early morning on Sunday. A total of 53 candidates were announced out of total 70 assembly segments in the state. Earlier three days ago, the ruling BJP had also announced it’s first list of 59 candidates.
The pulls and pressures between two warring factions within the Congress led by former Chief Minister Harish Rawat and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Pritam Singh remain the main reason for the delay in the announcement of candidates on 17 seats. There are also various permutations and combinations on some seats which has led to holding of names on these 17 seats.
The Congress central leadership has formed a committee having Mukul Vasnik and K.C. Venugopal with Uttarakhand state leaders to sort out the issue.
The names of two strong contenders namely former Chief Minister Harish Rawat and Harak Singh Rawat who recently re-joined Congress after much persuasion has not yet been decided.
It was believed that Harish Rawat wanted to contest from Ramnagar seat which is being nurtured by once his friend turned foe Ranjit Rawat. Pressure is being mounted by party leadership to shift Ranjit Rawat to Salt assembly segment which he is reluctant to go. So, both, Ramnagar and Salt seats are on hold.
It is also not clear whether Harak Singh Rawat will contest. According to party sources, there is possibility that Harak Singh Rawat will be fielded against Satpal Maharaj, a BJP minister from Chaubattakhal in Pauri Garhwal district. It would be interesting to see if Anukriti Gusain, who also joined Congress with her father-in-law will be fielded by Congress from Lansdown from where she is seeking party nomination. The Doiwala seat is still undecided and there are rumors of Harak Singh Rawat being fielded from there.
Similarly, Harish Rawat is trying to get party nomination for her daughter Anupama Rawat from Haridwar rural and Virender Rawat from Khanpur assembly seats in Haridwar district. It would be seen whether ‘one family, one ticket’ formula is adhered to by the party. Already, senior leader and former minister Yashpal arya,who switched over from BJP and his son Sanjeev Arya have been party nominations from Bazpur and Nainital assembly segments respectively.
The Narendranagar seat in Tehri district is still undecided as there is likelihood of BJP leader Om Gopal Rawat joining Congress. The Tehri city seat has also become contentious with rumours of senior party leader Kishore Upadhaya leaving the party which he has denied. However, the party had stripped him of all the party positions for his alleged hobnobbing with BJP. The BJP has also not announced the candidate for Tehri seat despite having sitting legislator Dhan Singh. Tehri seat has created a lot of suspense amongst political circles.
Another contentious seat is Dehradun Cantt.,where BJP has given party ticket to Savita Kapoor, the widow of Harbans Kapoor,in a bid to gain sympathy vote. Harbans kapoor was legislator for eight times. Senior Congress leader and Uttarakhand Congress Vice-president Suryakant Dhasmana who is worked hard in the assembly segment for the past decade is a front runner. The Rishikesh seat from where former minister Shorveer Sajwan and Rajpal Kharola are strong contenders is also with held.
Both the parties are keeping their finger crossed and awaiting the list of their rivals to decide on these contentious seats.