Assembly polls 2022: Emergence of women as prominent force in Uttarakhand politics

The women MLAs who won include six from BJP, while two are from Congress. In 2002, there were four woman MLAs. It was the same in 2007. In 2012, the number rose to five.
Former Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat (R) with state BJP president Madan Kaushik in Dehradun on Friday. (Photo | Special Arrangement)
Former Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat (R) with state BJP president Madan Kaushik in Dehradun on Friday. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

DEHRADUN: Women have emerged as a prominent force in Uttarakhand politics. There are eight women MLAs, the highest-ever in the state. Also, women outnumbered men in voting in 53 of the 70 constituencies.

“This election saw the highest number of women securing their place in the assembly. This is unprecedented and a silver lining,” said Geeta Gairola, a social worker, writer and activist based in Dehradun.

The women MLAs who won include six from BJP, while two are from Congress. In 2002, there were four woman MLAs. It was the same in 2007. In 2012, the number rose to five. In 2017, it remained the same.

Kirankant Sharma, a political observer based in Haridwar, said, “According to data from the state government, 3,444 women’s groups have been provided low-interest loans to pursue entrepreneurial projects, 4.80 lakh Ujjawala gas connections have been provided. These have made life of women of the state better than the past, which resulted in votes for BJP.”

Uttarakhand elections have shown a trend of the increasing gap between women and men voters, with women leading.

The voting percentage of women stood at 67.20% in 2022, while men were trailing at 62.60%. In hill areas of the state, this gap between women and men voters was over 10%.

The state has 70 constituencies, of which 34 are in the hill areas and 36 in the plain areas of the state.

BJP's Mohan Singh Bisht, Congress' Bhuvan Chandra Kapri emerge as giant killers

Not much was known about Mohan Singh Bisht, a humble BJP leader from Halduchaur area in the Nainital district, until he defeated Congress campaign head and former chief minister Harish Rawat from Lalkuwa on Thursday.

Before forcing arguably the tallest Congress leader from Uttarakhand to bite the dust in the polls to make his maiden entry into the state Assembly, Bisht had only won a zila panchayat poll in 2019.

However, being a local he enjoyed a connection with people at the grassroots and used Rawat's tag of being an outsider to his advantage.

The party's last-minute decision to change Rawat's seat from Ramnagar to Lalkuwa is also believed to have spoiled his chances.

Sandhya Dalakoti who had earlier been fielded by the Congress from Lalkuwa rebelled against the party and entered the fray as an independent.

Another major giant killer was state Congress working president Bhuvan Chandra Kapri who defeated Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami from Khatima by 6,579 votes.

Dhami had won from the seat in the last two consecutive polls.

Dhami faced Kapri for a second time on the seat after 2017 when he had defeated him by 2,709 votes.

Harish Rawat's daughter Anupama Rawat was the surprise winner from Haridwar rural where she defeated cabinet minister Yatishwaranand by 4,472 votes.

By defeating him, she also avenged her father's loss from the seat to Yatishwaranand in 2017 assembly elections.

Her victory from the seat is creditable as she was a poll debutante pitted against an experienced opponent.

Rawat had contested from Haridwar rural and Kichcha seats in 2017 and lost from both.

BJP veteran Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri's daughter Ritu Khanduri Bhushan also upset former minister Surendra Singh Negi by 3,687 votes in Kotdwar.

Negi had defeated her father in 2012 assembly polls.

Another giant killer was Mohan Singh of the BJP who defeated his political mentor, Congress veteran and former Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal, in Jageshwar by 5,883 votes.

Singh was once a close associate of Kunjwal but later joined the BJP.

Kunjwal had been winning from Jageshwar since 2002.

27% winning candidates in Uttarakhand polls have declared criminal cases against themselves: ADR

As much as 27 per cent of the 70 candidates who have won the Uttarakhand assembly polls have declared criminal cases against themselves, according to poll reforms advocacy group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The ADR said the Uttarakhand Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have analysed the self-sworn affidavits of all the 70 winning candidates.

"Out of the 70 winning candidates analysed in 2022, 19 (27%) winning candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves. Out of 70 MLAs analysed during the Uttarakhand Assembly elections in 2017, 22 (31%) MLAs had declared criminal cases against themselves," the ADR said.

The poll reforms advocacy group further said that 10 (14 per cent) winning candidates have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

The ADR said eight (17 per cent) out of the 47 winning candidates from BJP, eight (42%) of the 19 winning candidates from Congress, one (50 per cent) of the two winning candidates from the BSP and two (100 per cent) Independent winning candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

About five (11 per cent) out of the 47 winning BJP candidates, four (21 per cent) out of the 19 winning Congress candidates and one (50 per cent) out of two Independent winner have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits, it said.

Out of the 70 winning candidates analysed, 58 (83%) are crorepatis.

This number was 51 (73%) in 2017.

The ADR said 40 (85 per cent) out of 47 from the BJP, 15 (79 per cent) out of 19 from the Congress, both winning candidates from the BSP and one (50 per cent) out of two Independent winning candidates have declared assets worth more than Rs.1 crore.

The BJP stormed back to power in Uttarakhand after winning 47 of the 70 seats in the assembly polls.

According to the ADR criteria, a "serious criminal case" refers to any offence for which there is a maximum punishment of five years or more, or if it is non-bailable, an electoral offence (for eg. IPC 171E or bribery).

Offences related to loss to the exchequer, assault, murder, kidnap, rape-related, mentioned in the Representation of the People Act (section 8), those under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and crimes against women also qualify as "serious criminal cases".

(With PTI Inputs)

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