Uttarakhand: Will Cong manage to dislodge BJP?

After a whirlwind campaign in the hilly state of Uttarakhand, the Congress is sanguine about a victory in the Assembly elections.

Saswat Panigrahi

After a whirlwind campaign in the hilly state of Uttarakhand, the Congress is sanguine about a victory in the Assembly elections.

The party is divided in two camps -- one of Union Minister Harish Rawat and another of Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee president Yashpal Arya. Jumping the gun, hectic lobbying is going on by respective camps to claim the post of the Chief Minister.

But how was Congress placed in the last elections? What are the chances of the party in winning the Assembly elections this time? Let’s search for the answers in some quick electoral statistics.
Uttarakhand has voted out incumbent governments in all the Assembly elections held ever since it was carved out of Uttar Pradesh. The state has 70 Assembly constituencies.

In the first Assembly elections held in 2002, Congress won 36 seats, where as its main opponent BJP won 19. The grand old party took the reins of the state from Bhagat Singh Koshiyari-led interim government, thanks to the anti-accumbency factor. In 2007 Assembly elections, Congress managed to win only 21 seats, where as the BJP won 36. Anti-incumbency was the reason, again, for the saffron party’s victory against the NC Tiwari-led Congress government. So if anti-incumbency is the only factor in the Uttarakhand Assembly elections, there is a fair chance for the Congress this time.
Let’s discuss Congress’s grip over the state in the last two general elections Uttarakhand witnessed so far. The state has five Lok Sabha constituencies. In 2004 general elections, the Congress had won only one Lok Sabha seat, where as the BJP had won three. But in 2009 general elections, the Congress made a land slide sweep, winning all five Lok Sabha seats. However, BJP’s tally reduced to a cropper.

Now, let’s take a look at the factors which worked in favour the Congress in early elections. In 2002 Assembly elections, anti-incumbency was the only factor responsible for the Congress’s victory. But in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Congress carved a new social equation by forging a Muslim-Dalit combine that paved the way for the party to come out as a clear winner. The man behind this formula was Pradesh Congress Committee president Yashpal Arya. But will the formula work this time also?

During the poll campaign, the Congress tried to cash in on the scams in Nishank regime to gauge public mood. But there are as much as 70 scams from the ND Tiwari rule still haunting the Congress. On the other hand, the party had nothing to say to people against the present chief minister, BC Khanduri, who is known as an honest man. Hence will Congress’s anti-corruption babble work?

The people of Uttarakhand have already given their verdict. The verdict is sealed in EVMs. So now wait for the D Day -- March 6 for the final verdict.

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