A traditional battleground for Congress and BJP, Ramnagar assembly constituency had first gained prominence soon after the first state polls were held in 2002. The Congress candidate who had won the seat vacated it soon after to pave way for then chief minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari’s entry into the state assembly. Tiwari won the bypolls with a formidable margin of more than 23,000 votes and went on the rule the state for full term of five years --- the only CM to have done so in Uttarakhand.
Prior to that Congress’s Yogamber Singh had won the seat in the 2002 polls defeating BJP’s Diwan Singh Bisht by nearly 5,000 votes. The seat had recorded 59 per cent polling. Yogambar vacated the seat for Tiwari in June. To take on Tiwari, BJP nominated Ram Singh Bisht who suffered a major drubbing.
In the next state polls in 2007, BJP reposed faith in Diwan Singh Bisht, while Congress gave the ticket to Yogamber Singh. Diwan Singh romped home with a margin of more than 10,000 votes. The seat had witnessed 65.4 per cent polling.
Congress again won from Ramnagar in 2012 when former tourism minister Amrita Rawat defeated Diwan Singh by more than 3,000 votes. Rawat later joined BJP.
The seat with a sizeable presence of minority voters has also seen BSP making its presence felt in the elections held in Ramnagar securing 18-20 per cent of the votes.
For the fresh political battle on February 15, Congress has fielded Ranjeet Rawat, a close aide of chief minister Harish Rawat while BJP has once again nominated veteran leader and local heavy weight Diwan Singh Bisht. Ranjeet was twice elected to the assembly from Salt constituency in Almora before losing to BJP candidate in 2012. Party sources said he shifted to Ramnagar as it is considered a safe seat owing to the presence of a sizeable Muslim population that makes up for around 20 per cent of the voters here. “Harish Rawat government has done a lot for development of Ramnagar despite want of funds. As an important corridor for Kumaon Hills, Ramnagar and its areas adjoining Corbett Tiger Reserve will be given mega facelift as tourism destination if Congress returns to power,” said Ranjeet Rawat.
He, however, has an uphill task ahead as apart from the anti-incumbency wave against the state government, he is facing rebellion from youth Congress leader Sanjay Negi who has filed his nomination as an independent candidate.
The BJP, meanwhile, is banking on the support of its former MLA Amrita Rawat who recently addressed a gathering of Muslim voters. BJP is hopeful of endearing itself to the Muslim voters.