Haldwani: Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD), the only regional party in the hill state, is working hard to make its presence felt in the assembly elections due on February 15. The party that was established in 1979 to fight for carving out a separate hill state out of Uttar Pradesh, failed to capture the mood and momentum after Uttarakhand was formed in 2000. After the initial high of winning four of the 70 seats in 2002 polls, the UKD bagged only three in 2007 and just one in 2012.
For the polls next month, it has announced candidates on 56 seats, but is primarily focussing on two constituencies, which it believes it can win. It has pinned hopes on party founding-member and patron Kashi Singh Aeri (Didihat constituency) and party president Pushpesh Tripathi (Dwarahat).
Tripathi had last won an assembly election in 2007 from Dwarahat seat, while Aeri had last won the polls from Kanalichhina seat in 2002. Prior to that, Aeri had thrice represented Didihat in the undivided Uttar Pradesh assembly (1985-89, 1989-91 and 1993-96).
The UKD is confident of securing a better figure than it had in 2012 --- the confidence coming from the fact that all its factions, including the Trivendra Singh Panwar faction, have merged together to present an united face.
Former party president Narayan Singh Jantwal, who had won the Nainital seat in the 2002 assembly elections, is not contesting this time and neither is Shyam Narayan, the Nagar Palika chairperson of Nainital. Party’s lone MLA in the outgoing Assembly, Pritam Singh Panwar has shifted his constituency from Yamunotri to Dhanaulti. He is contesting as an independent.
As such, the UKD’s hopes are now focused on Didihat and Dwarahat where it is contesting on its symbol ‘chair’.
Tripathi had lost the 2012 polls to Congress’s Madan Singh Bisht by margin of 3,326 votes. He is now hoping to cash in on the alleged sting against Bisht wherein he is purportedly shown talking about his liason with the quarrying mafia.
“The fight is against the national parties who did nothing for the state and only siphoned away its resources. The UKD is united with the merger of all the factions and we are expecting our candidates to do better on all seats,” said Tripathi.
Aeri, on the other hand, is seeking to reap benefit from the presence of BJP rebel Kishen Bhandari who is contesting as an independent and might dent the vote bank of Bishen Singh Chuphal, the official BJP candidate.
“We are in talks with the Left parties for an alliance. Also, the status of Dhanaulti candidate Pritam Singh Panwar is still not clear as he is fighting as an independent, but has not quit the UKD,” said Aeri.