The Congress’ announcement of its Lok Sabha candidates from Pauri, Tehri and Haridwar constituencies has almost completed the nominations of the two major parties in the state. Now, as the final picture more or less emerges, five big nominations have chief ministerial tags behind them.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party had already fielded three former chief ministers — Bhagat Singh Koshyari, BC Khanduri and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank — as its candidates, the Congress on Wednesday nominated Saket Bahuguna, the son of former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, and Renuka Rawat, the wife of the current CM Harish Rawat, as its candidates from Tehri and Haridwar constituencies. The BJP has fielded Koshyari from Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar and Nishank from Haridwar.
While the Congress leadership was more interested in fielding Vijay Bahuguna, the latter was unwilling to take up the job. On the other hand, he pleaded Congress president Sonia Gandhi to replace him with his son Saket, despite the fact that the AICC leadership was not very keen to accept his proposal. However, sources informed that senior Bahuguna put his foot down to ensure that his son gets the ticket. On the other hand, Renuka’s candidature was a forgone decision, as the Congress lacked any name that would have gotten unanimous acceptances from local Congress members.
Although the Congress’ nominations on Wednesday from two constituencies were on execrated lines, it was unusual in Pauri as the central leadership changed its decision to replace Gambhir Singh Negi with Harak Singh Rawat at the last moment. Negi’s replacement resulted on the advice of new AICC state in-charge Rajiv Shukla, despite the fact that the former army general was picked by none other than Gandhi herself, sources said.
Though the CM was in favour of Negi initially, he too gave up later. Interestingly, Singh was initially reluctant to contest elections as the party was devoid of candidates immediately after its traditional candidate Satpal Maharaj joined the BJP on March 21.
Meanwhile, BJP candidates in Tehri and Pauri constituencies have breathed a sigh of relief after Congress finalised its nominees in both the seats. Singh and Saket are considered to be weak candidates as compared to their counterparts BC Khanduri and sitting MP Mala Rajyalaxmi Shah.
While the BJP candidates are confident of their victory riding over the saffron wave sweeping the country, they are doubly sure of their victory after the Congress announced its candidates. “We hope to win with more than 50,000 votes, as people are disenchanted with former CM Bahuguna and the present Congress regime led by Harish Rawat. They are rearing to express their anger against the Congress rule in the state,” said Rajpal Negi, a close aide of Shah.