In a neck-and-neck contest between the BJP candidate T.P.S. Rawat and Congress nominee Satpal Maharaj, the BJP retained the Pauri Lok Sabha seat by a margin of 4,506 votes. Shri B.C. Khanduri, who had won this seat by a margin of over 55,000 votes, had vacated it after becoming the Chief Minister. Since the inception of the BJP government in the state the party faced two assembly?Bajpur and Dhumakot?and Pauri Lok Sabha by-polls, and won all three consecutively. In this Lok Sabha by-poll, both the Congress and the BJP intruded into each other'sstronghold. The Congress led in BJP strongholds of Rajpur, Kedarnath, Badrinath and Pinder, while the BJP led over Congress in Lansdown, from where Opposition leader Harak Singh Rawat belongs.
The Pauri Lok Sabha seat covers 19 assembly seats across the districts in Garhwal region. Five of them fall in Dehradun, eight in Pauri, four in Chamoli and two in Rudraprayag. It was a close contest between Rawat and Maharaj right from the start with one leading the other or trailing closely at various stages during the counting process. Maharaj had secured 98 more votes than Rawat when the EVM votes were counted, but the BJP polled 5,595 postal ballot votes as compared to Congress? 991. In all, Rawat polled 2,29,632 votes while Maharaj received 2,25,126 votes.
Maharaj managed to go past Rawat in Chamoli by over 1,800 votes. While the Congress candidate won in three of the four assembly seats in the district, he lost out in Nandprayag. In three districts, Maharaj had a lead of 6,048 votes over Rawat. The biggest setback for BJP was in Dehradun. BJP performed well in Pauri district alone. In Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts, Congress performed well and led by a margin of 1,888 votes in Chamoli and by 3,348 votes in Rudraprayag.
In Dehradun district, Congress led by a margin of 849 votes in Mussoorie Assembly segment and by 2,214 votes in Laxman Chowk. It, however, lost to BJP by a margin of 688 votes in Doiwala and by 3,002 votes in Dehra Khas. The overall lead for Congress in Dehradun district was 812 out of the total of 92,844 votes that were polled. In Pauri district, BJP led by a margin of 5,940 votes out of a total of 2,07,144 votes cast. In Yamakeshwar Assembly segment, BJP had a lead of 2,441 votes, in Dhumakot, it led by 6,772 votes, in Lansdowne, it led by 1,032 votes, in Srinagar it led by 1,031 votes and in Thalisain it led by a mere 388 votes.
The BJP, however, trailed by a margin of 1,674 votes in Pauri assembly segment, by 2,932 votes in Bironkhal and by 195 votes in Kotdwar. In Chamoli district, BJP trailed by a margin of 1,888 out of a total of 1,17,923 votes that were cast. Congress led by a margin of 1,824 votes in Badrinath Assembly segment, by 1,371 votes in Karnaprayag and by a margin of 541 votes in Pindar. However, it was the BJP, which led in Nandaprayag by a margin of 1,748 votes. In Rudraprayag district, Congress led by a margin of 3,348 out of a total of 51,213 votes that were polled. Congress had a lead of 970 votes in the Rudraprayag Assembly segment.
Chief Minister Shri Khanduri said it was the victory of the party and he was extremely grateful to the people who have favoured the BJP and its ideology and its way of functioning. This election has given the message that people are happy with the BJP government in the state. Shri Bachi Singh Rawat, state president of BJP, said the result is according to the expectations of the BJP. Former Chief Minister Nityanand Swami and Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari also extended their gratitude to the people and party workers. Shri T.P.S. Rawat said he would leave no stone unturned to raise and solve the problems of the people of his constituency. The people have proved that the BJP is the only party that can fulfill their aspirations.
After losing the election the Congress candidate Satpal Maharaj alleged that the ruling party worked hand in glove with the state election commission and manipulated the postal ballots. ?Immediately after the election on February 24, I had complained to the EC about rigging of postal ballots by the ruling party and also requested a CBI enquiry,? he added.
The poll outcome clearly indicates that Shri Khanduri and his team need to do a lot of introspection in the coming days. A warning bell has been sounded by the electorate and BJP has a lot to worry about, as not only the elections to the urban local bodies are approaching, elections to the Panchayats are also not too distant.