The BJP won 57 of Uttarakhand’s 70 seats, leaving the ruling Congress with a measly 11. Here are the takeaways from BJP’s crushing victory, and Congress’s worst defeat in the young hill state…
1 The BJP organised well and early, and reaped the dividends. The party began campaigning nearly a year before the February 15 polls and kept the momentum going with multiple rallies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed four rallies in three days between February 10 and 12.
2 The Congress rout reflected in the total annihilation of chief minister Harish Rawat, who was confident of victory. He lost in both seats he contested — by over 12,000 votes in Haridwar (rural) and by 2,000 votes in Kiccha.
3 There was never any room for a third player. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) fared poorly. They won no seats. Most of AAP’s state leaders defected either to the Congress or the BJP. The state’s lone regional party, the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD), didn’t win any seat either.
4 The Congress was a one-man show: chief minister Rawat. A sting video showed him purportedly trying to bribe lawmakers after a clutch of Congress rebels sided with the BJP, triggering a political crisis in the state last year. The corruption taint stuck.
5 The party’s grassroots organisation is poor, and it showed. It lost 11 leaders to the BJP, including top candidates such as Harak Singh Rawat, known to have sway over Rajput votes in Garhwal. Yashpal Arya, a senior Dalit leader, also switched sides to the BJP. As did Vijay Bahuguna, whom Harish Rawat had replaced in 2014 after a bitter power struggle. Bahuguna is the son of a former CM and carries his father’s political legacy.
6 Political strategist Prashant Kishor didn’t turn things around. He wasn’t even roped in until January and his involvement hurt more than it helped because it appeared like the party itself was sidelined.
7 The Congress’s attempt to turn demonetisation of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, which forced a cash crunch, into a BJP weak link had little resonance in the hills.