DEHRADUN: It is something which both Congress and BJP will not like to admit, at least for now. But their leaders accept in private that Uttarakhand is headed for a hung assembly. In fact, the two sides have started looking for prospective allies.
Chief minister Harish Rawat indicated that the ruling Congress was not averse to stitching up a post-poll alliance in case of a hung assembly. At an interaction with reporters on Thursday, he hinted the Congress might stitch up an alliance with Independents.
Rawat said the party would not refrain from joining “like-minded people” but added it would prefer Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD). “It (UKD) has been associated with activists of the statehood movement. We will have to assemble all such forces with us for development of the state.” Rawat, however, claimed that the Congress would return to power with a full majority by winning 45 seats.
The result will be out on March 11.
The opposition BJP is making similar claims. “Our party is returning to power, riding the Modi wave,” BJP general secretary Khajan Das said, referring to “rising popularity” of the PM in Uttarakhand. “We are going to win above 45 seats.”
Leaders of both parties admit that there was a close fight, which may throw up a hung assembly. They attribute such a scenario to the presence of ‘highest’ number of rebels contesting election against official candidates.
Pre-poll surveys by the agencies roped in by BJP pegged its tally of seats at 48. On Friday, media reports quoted BJP state chief Ajay Bhatt as claiming that the tally of seats might go up to 50.
Party insiders though confide that such claims are exaggerated and the tally can turn out to be lower. “Our tally of seats may turn out to be far below the projections not only because of a large number of rebels,” a senior BJP leader said. “Added to that the small size of constituencies where the difference between victory and defeat is decided by a few hundred votes can restrict the tally of seats, throwing up a hung assembly.”
The scene was no different in 2012. Congress with 32 seats was only one notch higher than BJP. It managed to form government with the help of seven-member Progressive Democratic Front.
No wonder that both the rivals are on their toes again. “We are confident of returning to power but we are also in touch with fringe parties and Independents,” BJP’s Khajan Das said when asked if the party was bracing for a hung assembly. Congress leader MD Joshi also admitted that the ruling party was in touch with fringe parties and Independent candidates.