According to political experts in the state, chief minister Harish Rawat has considerably succeeded in consolidating the Muslim and Dalit voters in Haridwar in favour of his wife and Congress candidate Renuka Rawat.
They said he has brought in several caste leaders with significant hold over a large section of minority voters into the party to ensure Renuka’s victory.
The prominent among the leaders who crossed over to Congress is Chaudhary Yashveer Singh.
He is a Jat leader and has a large support base in Jhabreda assembly constituency of Haridwar. However, Yashveer’s son Gaurva, who was an independent municipal panchayat chief of Jhabreda, has not joined Congress despite Rawat reportedly approaching him with the offer. Meanwhile, Rawat was also successful in convincing suspended Dalit BSP MLAs Surinder Rakesh and Haridas into accepting to join the Congress.
They were accused of anti-party activities and were suspended from BSP last month. Though they have not joined the Congress, thousands of their BSP supporters have joined the party as a prelude to their joining the Congress, which is expected to happen in the coming few weeks.
Another local strong leader and Laksar Municipal Panchayat chief from BSP, Jagdev Singh, also joined the Congress along with scores of his supporters recently.
They have extended full support to the Congress candidate Renuka Rawat in Haridwar. Besides Chaudhary and Singh, Rawat supporters and Haridwar Congress unit led by Chaudhary Rajendra Singh has also managed to rope in another local big shot in Haridwar, Rajendra Singh Rana. Rana is the sitting Roorkee Municipal Corporation mayor and has a strong following in the area.
Rawat and his supporters’ recent caste engineering is mainly aimed at denting the BSP support base in the parliamentary constituency.
Dalit votes have always been a concern for the Congress party, but now with several of their leaders coming forward to support it, the party is confident of a win in Haridwar.
The party is also likely to be benefited from what Congress leaders consider a weak candidate fielded by the BSP in Haridwar.
“Apart from a weak BSP candidate, the Congress has also managed to get the support of local satraps and leaders with a mass following in the region. We expect that our candidate will win from here and Congress will regain its hold,” said Rameshwar Sharma, a local Congress leader.
The Muslims and Dalits together form almost half of the population and have a decisive say in the outcome of the election. Of the 14 lakh voters in the constituency, Muslims form 4 lakh and Dalits form 3.5 lakh voters.