Pauri Garhwal: Though the candidates for the general election have not been officially announced yet, former chief minister BC Khanduri, who represented the Garhwal seat four times since 1991, is almost certain to represent this seat for BJP this time.
The last assembly election in 2012 was fought under the slogan of “Khanduri hai Zaroori”, but the defeat of the two-time chief minister from the Kotdwar assembly seat was not only shocking for him, but was a blow to the party as well.
Shailendra Rawat, the former BJP MLA from Kotdwar, was blamed for the debacle and was expelled from the party. By bringing him back to the fold after about two years, the party has not only tried to control the damage but made its position strong in Kotdwar, where Khanduri had faced the shocking defeat.
However, a section of the party was reportedly unhappy with the re-induction of Shailendra Rawat, but all seems to be well now with the differences having been ironed out.
On Monday, Rawat said he was always a BJP man and worked hard to consolidate the party even during the two years he was out of the party.On the other hand, the Congress may field Satpal Maharaj, the sitting MP from Garhwal, again this time to take on Khanduri.
Since 1989, Maharaj has fought seven MP elections from Garhwal seat, including the by-election. But he has won only twice. Since, 1991 Satpal Maharaj and Khanduri had locked horns four times for the Garhwal parliamentary seat. Maharaj won only in 1996 and lost the rest battles to Khanduri.
Though, Maharaj recaptured the Garhwal seat in 2009 by defeating TPS Rawat of BJP, the sailing may not be smooth for the Congress this time because of the anti-incumbency factor. The problems are further compounded by complaints of poor disaster management measure taken by the Congress-led government after the mid-June flash floods.
Badrinath, Thrali, Karnprayag, Kedarnath, Rudraprayag and Srinagar assembly constituencies - where the wounds of mid-June calamity are still fresh - are decisive.