In Haridwar district, which has 11 assembly constituencies, the ruling Congress is facing a tough challenge not from the main opposition BJP but from its ally Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the ensuing polls.
The BSP, which supports the Congress in the state assembly, has two MLAs from the district.
The BSP and the Congress are eyeing Muslim and Dalit vote bank. The BJP, however, has a clear strategy to garner support of Gujjars, Brahmins and other backward classes.
Uttarakhand will hold polls to the 70-member assembly early next year.
In 2002 election, the BSP won eight assembly seats, including six from Haridwar while in 2007, it won six seats all from the district. In 2012 election, the party - led by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati - won three seats.
Its MLA from Bhagwanpur Surendra Rakesh died of cancer and the Congress gave ticket in bypoll to his widow, who won. The party did well in the 2016 panchayat elections in Haridwar.
For protecting its stronghold in Haridwar, the BSP is strengthening organisation by taking back some suspended leaders, including former state unit president Surjmal.
“We were removed from the party on Behnji’s (as Mayawati is also known among her followers) order. We did not join any party because we are true follower of the BSP. Now, the party has given me chance to make its organisation strong,” said Surjmal.
Candidates in eight out of the 11 seats in Haridwar have already been declared. But, the party could change some contestants at the last moment for better result.
BSP sources said Congress leader Chaudhary Rajendra Singh, who belongs to the Gujjar community, could join the party to contest from Khanpur where Chaudhray Yashveer Singh, a former BSP MLA, could be the Congress nominee. He joined the Congress recently.
Rajendra Singh is believed to be upset with the Congress as he did not join any party meetings or rallies for the past couple of weeks. He was also absent from Congress’ development march on November 19 inKhanpur.
“I am upset with some leaders not the party. I did not take participate in party’s event due to illness. I have not decided to leave the party so far. It is right that I want to contest election from Khanpur seat. I hope the Congress will think about my sacrifice to the party,” he said.