As many as 11 sitting MLAs of Uttarakhand who never tasted defeat in the three assembly polls held after the state’s formation in 2002, 2007 and 2012 are eyeing to repeat their electoral success for the fourth time now.
In 2012, seven Congress legislators had won for the third time in a row – though only three of them remain in the party now.
While speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal will be fighting on his home turf Jageshwar in Kumaon, cabinet ministers Pritam Singh and Dinesh Agarwal will be contesting on their traditional seats, Chakrata and Dharampur, respectively.
The BJP, on the other hand, saw five of its leaders striking a hat-trick in the Uttarakhand assembly polls in 2012.
These included Harbans Kapoor, Madan Kaushik, Bishan Singh Chuphal and Harbhajan Singh Cheema who will be contesting for the fourth time on Dehradun Cantt, Haridwar, Didihat and Kashipur seats, respectively.
The fifth MLA, Vijay Barthwal, who had filed nomination as an Independent after being denied a BJP ticket form Yamkeshwar seat , withdrew her candidature on Saturday in support of the BJP’s official nominee Ritu Khanduri Bhushan.
Additionally, four Congress turncoats will also be hoping to enter the state assembly for the fourth time – this time on BJP tickets though. These include Yashpal Arya (from Bajpur seat), Harak Singh Rawat (Kotdwar), Kunwar Pranav Singh ‘Champion’ (Khanpur) and Shailendra Mohan Singhal (Jaspur).
“The public has seen my work for the past 15 years and I am confident of winning for the fourth time,” Congress’ Chakrata MLA Pritam Singh said.
BJP’s Harbhajan Singh Cheema from Kashipur seat said, “People are tired of Congress’ corrupt rule. I am sure that they will not only bless me with another term, but will also uproot the Congress government.”
A brake, however, seems to have been put on the ‘dream run’ of two third-time MLAs who will not be contesting the upcoming elections. While former Congress rebel Amrita Rawat failed to bag a BJP ticket, three-time Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA from Haridwar district, Haridas also did not get a ticket after he switched allegiance the Congress earlier this month.
Political commentators, however, feel that with changed tactics of the BJP and the Congress, some of these “heavyweights” may not find the going easy.
“Looking at the poll records of Uttarakhand, many heavyweights – including chief ministers and ministers – have lost polls here in the past. This time, too, some of these (three-time) MLAs are likely to face an anti-incumbency wave whether they are from the BJP or the Congress, which may affect their prospects for yet another term,” Dehradun-based political analyst Jay Singh Rawat told HT.