Created in 2008, Bhimtal assembly constituency has till now witnessed only one election in 2012. While BJP won the seat, the election process saw the emergence of BSP as a player in the hill politics.
Bhimtal was created by adding up some portions of the now-abolished Dhari and Mukteshwar assembly constituencies and the existing Nainital constituency following delimitation in 2008. The creation of this new assembly segment led to a shift in the political dynamics too. While Congress’ former MLA from Dhari, Harish Chandra Durgapal relocated his politics to Lalkuwa (SC) seat, then sitting MLA from the same seat, Govind Singh Bisht of BJP, shifted his activities to Bhimtal.
However, in 2012 polls, the saffron party gave the ticket to Daan Singh Bhandari instead of Bisht, who was also education minister in the BJP government.
Bhandari defeated the nearest rival, BSP’s Mohan Pal, by nearly 6,400 votes even as Congress’s Ram Singh Kera stood third. However, Bhandari shifted his loyalty to Congress in May 2016 – his move coming at a time when Harish Rawat government was jolted by the rebellion of its nine MLAs who defected to the BJP leading to a political turmoil in the state. For 2017 polls, BJP has placed the bet on Bisht while Congress has nominated Bhandari.
Although BSP is still in fray, but, analysts say that this time battle for Bhimtal seat is mainly between Congress and the BJP. Bisht will be reaching out to the people with a campaign questioning Bhandari over his defection to the Congress. The party will also ask Bhandari to explain why he failed to top do any development works in the area. BJP is also banking on anti-incumbency against the Harish Rawat government.
Bhandari, meanwhile, claims he left BJP after seeing how the party-led central government was trying to dethrone an elected government in the state. “Besides my shift to the Congress party on moral grounds, I will tell people how Rawat government has given a sound network of roads to the constituency. Four hospitals and community health centres (CHCs) have been created in the constituency. Apart from this, Rawat government has resolved to develop the hill constituency into important tourism area,” said Bhandari.