Demonetisation factor restricts election fervour in hill state of Uttarakhand

For one thing, the number of candidates contesting in the Assembly polls this time around has come down drastically.

Published: 06th February 2017 02:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th February 2017 03:53 AM   |  A+A-

The Ganga flows by the Garhwal hills on Sunday as sleepy Uttarakhand stirred up for the approaching election on February 14 | Vikram Sharma

Express News Service

DEHRADUN:For people in the bigger states, the Assembly elections in Uttarakhand seem like a side show, But within the state, they are characterised by a lot of excitement. But for the first time since the state came into being in 2000, the excitement seems to have dimmed a bit. Analysts blame it on the demonetisation effect.

For one thing, the number of candidates contesting in the Assembly polls this time around has come down drastically.

According to numbers available with the chief electoral officer of Uttarakhand, 720 candidates filed their nominations for 70 seats for the elections taking place on February 14 in a single phase. Of this, the nomination papers of 35 candidates were rejected, leaving 685 in the fray. Further, 51 candidates opted out of the race on the last day for withdrawal of nominations, last Wednesday. The number dwindled further to 634.

In contrast, back in the 2002 Assembly elections, there were 927 candidates in the fray. Five years later in 2007, the number stood at 785. In the 2012 Assembly election, 788 candidates ran the race in the state.

So why this lack of interest in the present election? “Demonetisation,” says Triloknath Rawat, a Dehradun based political analyst. “There’s a severe shortage of cash. Candidates have no money.”

Previous elections in Uttarakhand have not lacked for contestants even if most of them lost their deposits.

In the 2002 Assembly polls when 927 candidates took part in the race, 760 of them lost their deposits. Similarly, in 2007, 580 out of the 785 contestants lost their deposits.

Nevertheless there was no dearth of candidates in 2012, when 614 of the 788 candidates lost their money.

A retired bureaucrat, Alok Singh said it can only be due to the effects of demonetisation. “Otherwise, the number of candidates could have been much more,’’ he said.

Reflecting this, road shows and rallies organised by rival political parties have not been grand affairs as used to be the case in the past. “All the political parties seem to be strapped for cash. And that’s good for the system,’’ said Alok Singh.

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