The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sprang a surprise by winning nine of the 10 assembly seats in Dehradun district, even as the Congress party struggled to come to terms with the rude shock.
The saffron party cemented its emphatic victory by penetrating deep into the home turfs of senior Congress leaders and defeated two cabinet ministers in the district, which forms the nerve centre of Uttarakhand politics.
In the last state assembly, one of the 10 seats had fallen vacant after the disqualification of former Congress MLA Umesh Sharma Kau last year. Of the remaining nine, five seats were represented by the BJP and four by Congress.
Dehradun mayor Vinod Chamoli turned out to be a ‘giant killer’ defeating three-time MLA and cabinet minister in the Harish Rawat government, Dinesh Agarwal by 10,953 votes. “People clearly voted for change, as they were tired of being cheated by them (Congress MLAs),” Chamoli told HT.
In another surprise, BJP candidate Munna Singh Chauhan upset the applecart of senior cabinet minister Nav Prabhat by defeating him with a margin of 6,418 votes on the Vikasnagar seat. Another big surprise was the victory of BJP’s Khajan Das in Rajpur Road constituency by a margin of 8,632 votes against sitting Congress MLA Rajkumar, who was being touted as a “sure-shot winner” on the seat.
Former Congress rebel Umesh Sharma Kau defeated Prabhulal Bahuguna of Congress with a margin of over 36,771 votes on the Raipur seat and became a winner with the highest victory margin in the state. BJP’s sitting MLA Sahdev Pundir trounced the hopes of state Congress chief Kishore Upadhyay on Sahaspur seat by defeating him with 18,863 votes. Seven-time MLA Harsbans Kapoor defeated Suryakant Dhasmana of Congress by 16,670 votes on Dehradun Cantt seat to record his record eighth straight assembly election success.
Ganesh Joshi of ‘Shaktiman’ fame won the Mussoorie seat from Godavari Thapli of Congress by over 12,077 votes. Similarly, Trivendra Singh Rawat defeated sitting Congress MLA Hira Singh Bisht by 24,869 votes, while BJP’s sitting MLA Premchand Agarwal won the Rishikesh seat yet again with a margin of 14,801 votes. The only seat Congress managed to win was that of Chakrata, where cabinet minister Pritam Singh defeated BJP’s Madhu Chauhan by a margin of 1,543 votes.
Dinesh Agarwal, forest minister in the Harish Rawat government, blamed the Congress party’s defeat to a “strong Modi wave”, alleging that people “neither see the work, nor the merit of candidates”. “They only saw (PM Narendra) Modi’s party...I don’t think any of the (BJP) candidates won on the basis of their merit. Though I respect the mandate of the public, but such a blind wave is not good for democracy and it only leads to a dictator-like attitude among the winners,” Agarwal told HT, while commenting over the BJP’s victory in Dehradun.