DEHRADUN: Just like the adjoining state of Uttar Pradesh, the ‘NaMo’ wave swept through the hill state of Uttarakhand as the BJP bagged 57 seats in the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly, emerging as the single largest party in the state.
While demonetisation, the widely perceived corruption of incumbent chief minister Harish Rawat, his ‘’autocratic style’’ of functioning, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development ‘mantra’ — clearly worked for the saffron party, it was the largely bipolar contest that determined the election result.
By evening, chief minister Harish Rawat, who himself lost two seats — Haridwar (rural) and Kichcha — tendered his resignation to the governor KK Paul. ‘’I salute Modi wave and EVM magic,’’ he said rather sarcastically, adding that the Election Commission should spell out how much money can be spent on elections.
The Congress with 11 seats stood second. The political situation in the hill state has seen several twists ever since the Congress came to power in 2012. While the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy, which left nearly 6,000 dead, resulted in cracks within the Congress, with the then chief minister Vijay Bahuguna being forced to quit under immense public outcry, he swiftly joined the BJP camp along with his supporters.
It was the unsuccessful ‘’attempt’’ by the saffron party to topple the Congress government in March 2016 that ended up in many BJP and Congress leaders switching over to rival camps. Led by Vijay Bahuguna, as many as nine Congress MLAs joined BJP to topple the Harish Rawat government.
Later, the courts intervened and Harish Rawat was retained in the top post. When it came to distribution of tickets, the BJP, in order to accommodate the nine Congress MLAs, gave tickets to these Congress rebels while denying tickets to its own leaders. This led seven BJP MLAs to switch over to the Congress.
Besides this, alleged corruption in the Harish Rawat government, demonetisation, growing unemployment and large-scale migration from the hills, were the factors that swung the verdict in favour of BJP. While for the Congress, Harish Rawat seemed to be the lone warrior fighting to retain power in the state, with Rahul Gandhi making his presence felt only a few times during campaigning, the BJP used every weapon in their arsenal to grab power.
Senior BJP leaders — right from PM Modi to BJP President Amit Shah, cabinet ministers and former Uttarakhand chief ministers BC Khanduri, Vijay Bahuguna among others — campaigned extensively across the length and breadth of the hill state.
Interestingly, even the Samajwadi Party, with which the Congress entered into a ‘’gatbandhan’’ in UP, also contested from 20 seats while the Bahujan Samaj Party, which has little hold in the hill state, too contested, albeit unsuccessfully.
While the vote share of the Congress stood at around 33 per cent, which was more or less same when compared to the 2012 election, the saffron’ party’s votes was about 45 per cent.
While five ministers in Harish Rawat government lost the election, only two won. Among the big losers were Kotdwar heavyweight SS Negi, who defeated the then chief minister BC Khanduri back in 2012 elections, Navprabhat from Vikasnagar, Rajendra Bhandari from Badrinath and Raj Kumar from Rajpur constituency.
However, it is the people below 50 years who played a major role in deciding the winner as this age group comprises over 56 lakh voters out of the total 76 lakh voters in the state.