Five years after its unexpected defeat in Uttarakhand, Bharatiya Janata Party registered a comeback in the state by elbowing out N.D. Tewari-led Congress government from power. The BJP bagged 34 out of the 69 seats polled while the Congress had to content with just 21 seats. The BSP got eight, the UKD cornered two and independent candidates bagged three seats. The mandate is a reversal of the outcome in 2002 when BJP had secured just 19 seats while the Congress had won 36 seats. But unlike the Congress, the BJP has failed to secure an absolute majority.
Talking to Organiser in Dehradun the State BJP President, Shri Bhagat Singh Koshiyari admitted that there were several reasons for the Party'sfailures for not securing an absolute majority. According to Koshiyari there were some mistakes or wrong decisions on distributing the tickets to the candidates. ?Another reason was overconfidence at some seats which have been lost unluckily,? he added. All eyes are now on the three independent candidates Shri Gagan Singh Rajwar (Dharchula), Shri Yashpal Benam (Pauri) and Shri Rajendra Singh Bhandari (Nand Prayag). These are all the Congress rebels. Talking to Organiser Shri Koshiyari said the BJP would manage to achieve the absolute majority in the house easily.
Expressing satisfaction over the party'sperformance, BJP in-charge for the poll campaign in Uttarakhand and the would-be Chief Minister Shri B.C. Khanduri expressed confidence over forming the government without outside support. ?We are confident of forming the government. The focus of our government would be to correct all wrongs of the N.D. Tewari government and give the people a pro-people, transparent and accountable government,? he said.
On the other hand, the PCC chief Shri Harish Rawat attributed the party'sperformance to several factors including its inability to project the government'sperformance in an effective manner and division of votes due to presence of 32 rebel candidates. In a clear setback to the ruling government and its policies, several important ministers including PWD and Information Minister who was one of the contenders of the Chief Minister post Smt. Indira Hridyesh and Education Minister Narendra Singh Bhandari also lost their seats.
In Haldwani, BJP'sBansidhar Bhagat defeated Smt. Hridyesh by a margin of 4,180 votes. While Shri Bhandari was defeated in Pauri by an independent Yashpal Benam.
The Transport Minister Shri Hira Singh Bisht lost to BJP'sGanesh Joshi from Rajpur while former Chief Minister Shri Nityanand Swami too lost for a second consecutive time to the sitting Congress MLA Dinesh Aggarwal from Laxman Chowk.
Despite projections of a better performance this time around, the largest regional outfit Uttarakhand Kranti Dal failed to increase its tally and three of its sitting MLAs including senior leader Kashi Singh Airy lost their seats.
On the other hand, the BSP maintained its stranglehold in the plain areas and prevented rival Samajwadi Party from making inroads into its vote-bank by winning eight seats from Haridwar, Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital districts. Polling for the Bajpur seat, which was cancelled following the death of Congress candidate Janakraj Sharma would take place on March 25. Sharma'swife has been named as the Congress candidate from this seat.
The BJP has gained 32.15 per cent votes in the state while it was 25.45 per cent in 2002 Assembly Election. Shri Teerath Singh Rawat (BJP) lost to independent candidate only by 11 votes and Shri Ajay Bhatt (BJP) also lost to Congress candidate by 205 votes.
BJP leaders see the poll outcome as the beginning of the end of Congress rule at the Centre. It seems the price rise was one of the most important reasons for Congress debacle. Though the Congress tried to win the assembly election on the issue of development but the voters did not take it seriously. The price rise issue, lal batti episode, corruption, scams and scandals, Tewari'sunwillingness to rule over the state had been the major causes of the Congress defeat. The BJP could have won more seats including Tehri Lok Sabha seat if Uma Bharati'sBharatiya Jan Shakti Party had not joined the polls.
BJP'sstrategy to make stars like Shatrughan Sinha, Hema Malini, Mukesh Khanna, Smriti Irani and Navjot Singh Sidhu also worked positively in making favourable atmosphere for BJP'svictory.
Finding reasons for a loss in elections is often not an easy task. But that is exactly what the Congress leadership would have to indulge in after it failed to retain power.
An ineffective poll campaign that failed to pick up till days before polling, presence of 32 rebel candidates and Chief Minister N.D. Tiwari'sunwillingness to contest are some reasons that Congress leaders agree for the poll debacle.
While the BJP started the poll campaign in November last year by undertaking the Satta Parivartan Yatra across Kumaon and Garhwal regions the Congress failed to come up with an effective reply till February. The BJP'sBhagat Singh Koshiyari and B.C. Khanduri stood side by side during the entire campaign, but the same can'tbe said for PCC'sHarish Rawat, Chief Minister ND Tewari and other Congress leaders.