Dehradun: Tasked by the BJP to lead the charge
in Uttarakhand assembly election as its government struggled
in the face of graft allegations, BC Khanduri managed to make
it a close fight with the Congress but fell short of notching
a victory for the party.
Under the 78-year-old Khanduri's leadership, the BJP got
31 seats, five short of its tally in the last elections, while
the Congress emerged as the single largest party with 32 seats
in the 70-member assembly.
However, Khanduri's candidature for chief ministership
failed to charm the voters of his own constituency Kotdwar,
where he lost to the Congress candidate Surendra Singh Negi by
a margin of 4,632 votes.
In September last year when Khanduri, a former army
general, was made the Chief Minister, the BJP appeared to be
facing a downslide because of allegations of corruption
against his predecessor Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'.
The BJP also cantered its election campaign in Uttarakhand
around the personality of Khanduri, known as 'Mr Clean'.
'Khanduri hai zaroori' (Khanduri is necessary) was the
slogan on which the party went to polls in the seventy
Ironically, while Khanduri lost, Nishank won from Doiwala
major role in reviving the state BJP unit. After becoming the
Chief Minister in September last year, Khanduri had ensured
passage of the Lokayukta Act which was not only praised by
Team Anna but also gave the party a talking point in the
election as well.
Putting up a brave front, Khanduri today said he had very
little time to lead the BJP in the elections.
"I did not have any magic wand but I tried to do my best
during this short period of 3 months and 14 days," he said.
However, the sailing never turned out to be smooth in
Khanduri's constituency of Kotdwar. As the BJP was projecting
Khanduri for the top job in the state, in Kotdwar constituency
his Congress rival was using the same disourse to trip him.
Locally entrenched Congress leader Surinder Singh Negi
ran a well organised campaign telling voters that Khanduri
would move to Dehradun after becoming Chief Minister and there
would be no one to address local problems.
The caste equations in Kotdwar, where Negi's caste was
numerically the strongest, and dissidence within the BJP's
local unit were other factors which hampered his campaign.
Referring to his defeat, Khanduri said, "I admit that I
could not give due time to the people of Kotdwar during
"I felt that the entire state is my constituency and I
had been representing Kotdwar during 1991 to 1997 and the
voters there knew me very well. Despite this fact, whatever
verdict has been given by the people, I accept with all
humility," he said.