Doiwala (U'khand): As the BJP tries to cash
in on the image of Chief Minister BC Khanduri with its slogan
'Khanduri hai zaroori' (Khanduri is essential) in the upcoming
Assembly polls in Uttarakhand, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who
was at the helm not long ago, is locked in a tight fight in
The blow of having been removed from the Chief
Minister's post by his own party coupled with the fact that he
is contesting from Doiwala for the first time, that too
against an experienced opponent, means that this battle has
the makings of a cliffhanger.
There are over 20 candidates in the fray from Doiwala, a
small town about 20 kms from the state capital Dehradun, but
Nishank's prime opponent is veteran Congress leader and former
minister Hira Singh Bisht.
"The BJP has always done well here. The past two
elections saw the victory of Trivendra Singh Rawat, who is now
contesting from Raipur. Besides, Nishank ji has been the CM
of the state, so his stature is taller than others," Ghanshyam
Singh Kushwaha, a BJP leader, said.
However, his stature has been questioned by Congress
leaders who called him "inefficient".
"He was the Chief Minister but he does not have much to
tell the people of the constituency about what he did as CM
which improved their lives. And if you were an efficient CM
why did your party remove you from the post," Bisht, who was
himself a minister in N D Tiwari Cabinet, said.
"And does it behove a CM to go from meeting to meeting
seeking votes in only his own constituency like any other MLA.
Stature worthy of a CM would have been if people in several
constituencies want to vote for you," he said.
Nishank was removed from the CM's post in September last
year in an apparent move by BJP to lift its sagging image
following graft allegations against the state government.
Bisht also attacks Nishank terming him an "outsider". The
former Chief Minister had represented Thalisainin seat in the
last Assembly election, while Bisht has represented the
Doiwala area before.
Though the Congress attacks are unrelenting, Nishank has
prepared his defence.
"I have served the area as the Chief Minister and the
people of the area know my work. People have benefited from
our government's plan like the idea of running the number 108
vans. These vans rush to all distress calls and have saved
people's lives," Nishank said.
Dismissing the 'outsider' tag, he said he is now a
resident of the neighbouring Dehradun and knows Doiwala as
well as anybody else in the area.
Besides the fact that BJP has traditionally done well in
Doiwala, the presence of Congress rebel S P Singh in the fray
could help Nishank win the seat. Another candidate Jasbir
Singh Negi is also expected to garner a sizeable share of
votes, though not many consider him a winning candidate.
The constituency consists of semi-urban and rural areas
where over one lakh voters, an even mix of farmers, service
class and small shopkeepers would vote at 137 polling booths.
As the big names clash, voters try to make up their
minds. "Even when parties announce schemes, they work only for
the first few days. It is not easy to decide which candidate
would work better. Though BJP is strong here, the image of
Nishank has taken a beating because of the talk about
corruption," said Rajendra Pawar, a sweetshop owner.