With the electioneering reaching at the peak in Uttaranchal, the picture is getting clearer. Both the major parities?the BJP and the Congress?are finding it tough to console their rebel candidates. The political equations in the state are changing very fast. Just two months back it was being thought that Uma Bharati'sBharatiya Janshakti Party would succeed in cutting into the BJP'straditional votes but now the prominent candidates put up by her party have mostly rejoined the BJP. Shri Lakhiram Joshi, whom Uma Bharati had made state president, too has returned home.
The BJP hopes to cash in on ?double anti-incumbency? factor against the Congress in both state and Centre. The party is working to whip up the sentiments against infiltration of illegal Bangladeshis into Garhwal region. The BJP hopes to win those 42 seats where it stood second in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP has already succeeded in making people of the state aware of the anti-people policies of the Congress government through the Parivartan Yatra, which drew a huge crowd in all nooks and corners of the state. Development skill of N.D. Tewari has been countered by BJP by making Shri B.C. Khanduri election campaign chief. It would also attract the votes of ex-servicemen spread across the state. Since Shri Khanduri is from Garhwal, the move is expected to benefit the party in the region where a significant section of voters feels neglected in developmental activities in comparison to Kumaon.
On the other hand, the Congress appears confused over the leadership issue. Congress? dilemma is who after Tewari? It has sent a wrong message in the Congress cadre also. The Congress appears to be in utter confusion with Shri Tewari'sreluctance to continue in state politics. Shri Tewari is said to be
in desperation to completely disassociate himself with state politics. He is said to be utterly disappointed with the state Congress chief Harish Rawat due to his uncooperative attitude. Shri Rawat has criticised Tewari government on several occasions and has accused him of failing to fulfill the aspirations of people.
The Muslim votes, this time it appears, stand divided benefiting none. The Muslims comprise 12 per cent of Uttaranchal'stotal population. They have a significant presence in the plain districts of Dehradun, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar. They affect the fate of 25 of the total 70 constituencies. In the last assembly elections they had supported the Congress. In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, 61 per cent Muslims had voted for Congress while 25 per cent voted for the SP and 11 per cent went with the BSP. But this time Muslim votes are not going to benefit the Congress as party'sformer leader Maulana Masood Madani has formed his own party?Maidini Kranti Dal. He has fielded his candidates in 30 constituencies. The UKD, which has decided to go alone, is also not expected to show any miracle.
A huge chunk of votes that would traditionally go to either regional outfits or Left parties is now likely to get divided, putting the BJP or the ruling Congress in an advantageous position. Incidentally, that was the ?last thing? the regional satraps wanted.
Almost every party has its share of rebels. The dissension over denial of tickets to aspirants is evident in the ruling Congress and the BJP but the Congress is the worst affected. Several eminent leaders of Congress have joined other parties and are contesting assembly elections on the tickets provided by other parties. BJP has succeeded a lot in reining in its rebels. But the BJP will have to give up its over-confidence the most dominant factor in its defeat during last assembly election. It will have to work hard to satisfy and unite its party workers.