Congress MLA Pritam Singh, now the panchayat minster in the Harish Rawat cabinet, has won the Chakrata constituency in the three assembly elections held after Uttarakhand was formed. He maintained his winning streak defeating either Munna Singh Chauhan or his wife Madhu Chauhan, both now in the BJP.
“Pritam Singh has rooted himself so strongly in his constituency that it will be difficult for the BJP candidate to defeat him. The BJP can only give him a tough fight,” said a Congress leader.
Local leaders say the BJP could do well to pick Madhu Chauhan as its candidate to put up a fight against Pritam Singh, considered one of the strongest ministers in the Rawat cabinet. Records show the BJP failed to get even 5,000 votes when it fielded a candidate other than Munna or Madhu.
Munna stood second in the 2002 polls as an Uttarakhand Janwadi Party candidate and Madhu in 2007 as an independent. Madhu put up a better show, bagging more than 18,000 votes against Pritam Singh’s 22,500. The BJP candidate polled less than 3,000 votes.
Munna Singh, who joined the BJP in 2012 after dabbling with parties, had defeated Pritam Singh in 1991 and 1996 assembly polls when Uttarakhand was not carved out of Uttar Pradesh. Pritam has always been a Congress candidate.
The BJP will try to turn the corruption heat on the Rawat government and Pritam Singh, alleging fund misuse in construction of roads. Munna Singh has alleged Pritam failed to create approach roads and ensure drinking water supply to remote hill areas of the constituency despite being panchayat, and rural development minister of the state for 10 years. The Congress had won two of the last three assembly elections.
“The panchayat minister has barely done anything for the constituency in five years. His contribution to the development of Chakrata is zero; community development is a big casualty,” alleged Munna Singh, hinting that his wife Madhu would be preferred over him as the BJP candidate from Chakrata.
“It’s on record that the MLA local area development fund for Chaktrata has been misused as it is being spent only in election year. The fund is used either to promote family members or close associates.”
Pritam Singh is confident of making it for the fourth time from Chakrata, located along the Himachal border.
“People know well what I have done for the constituency. Nothing his hidden. Roads or other facilities are for everyone to see. Most of the PMGSY (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana) projects are completed and villages have been given road connectivity,” Pritam said.
The Chakrata seat, reserved for scheduled tribes, is part of the Tehri Lok Sabha constituency.
Chakrata in 2012
Electorate size: 86876, likely to touch 90-95 thousand in 2017
No of candidates: 7, four lost deposits
Polling percentage: 75%,
Polling stations: 199,
Average voters per station: 437
Winner Pritam Singh, INC, polled 33187 votes
Runner-up, Munna Singh, BJP, polled 26533 votes
Margin of victory: 6654 votes