With the BJP announcing Maharani Mala Rajlakshmi as its candidate for the October 10 Tehri Lok Sabha bypoll in Uttarakhand, the going may get tough in the high-profile constituency for the ruling Congress which is yet to decide its nominee for the seat.
Though the seat fell vacant after
chief minister Vijay Bahuguna resigned from it, it is a fact that he won it for the first time in 2007 only after the death of Rajlakhsmi's father-in-law Maharaja Manvendra Shah of the Tehri Garhwal royal family.
By the strength of his traditional vote bank in Tehri, Maharaja Manvendra Shah had represented the seat in the Lok Sabha for a record eight times.
Political observers here feel the BJP has thrown a tough challenge to the Congress by fielding Rajlakshmi who is said to wield considerable influence among voters in the constituency, having looked after the poll campaigns of Manvendra Shah for years.
Desperate to avenge its defeat at the the hands of Congress in Sitarganj where it had to field a second nominee after its first choice withdrew in favour of Bahuguna, BJP has made a deft political move by nominating Rajlakshmi from the seat, observers opined.
Congress on the other hand has not yet been able to finalise its candidate for the seat. However, people in the Bahuguna camp claim that the party has made up its mind about fielding his elder son Saket from the seat and announcement of a candidate is just a formality.
The name of Bahuguna's wife Radha Bahuguna is also doing the rounds as one of the probable candidates for the seat.
Bahuguna's detractors within Congress, on the other hand, claim that the party is set to announce someone active at the grassroots as the party's candidate from the seat.
Congress general secretary in charge of Uttarakhand Chaudhry Virendra Singh had made it clear during his last visit here that grassroot workers will be given preference when it came to distributing party tickets.