Kichha: A small town located 30 km from Haldwani on Bareilly highway in US Nagar disitrict, Kichha is basking in its hour of glory, courtesy chief minister Harish Rawat.
On Wednesday, Rawat filed his nomination paper to contest from Kichha. The chief minister is also the Congress candidate from Haridwar Rural. This is the first time in Uttarakhand that a chief minister is contesting from two constituencies.
The town is expanding with new homes coming up and development works being carried out all over. But much of Kichha remains rural, and farmers are present in large numbers. Kichha is also home to a sizeable Muslim population which traditionally backed Congress.
Many locals say Rawat made a bold decision by choosing Kichha as it is held by BJP whose candidate Rajesh Shukla is no pushover. Shukla enjoys clout in the constituency by virtue of being a local. In 2012, the BJP candidate declared land worth Rs 26 crore, making him a resourceful opponent.
Tasleem Khan, a farmer from Darau village, says though he is a traditional Congress supporter, the entry of Rawat is exciting for him. “Now on, Kichha will be known as the chief minister’s constituency.” Another farmer Tasleem Malik feels Rawat will work wonders for Kichha what Vijay Bahuguna did for Sitarganj. “Have you seen Sitarganj of today?”
Not all people are as enthused as Khan and Malik. Amit Kumar Gupta, who runs an old sweet shop ‘Chunni Lal ki Mashoor Jalebi’, claims Rawat’s entry has not enthused anyone. “We know that he will limit himself till Haldwani, if he becomes the chief minister. Who will go to Haldwani or Dehradun with their problems? Rajesh Shukla is a local. At least, we can hope patient hearing from him.”
Vinod feels Rawat will not make any difference to Kichha for, according to him, all candidates are same. “We will remain what we are. These are good days as we are earning ₹1,200 in this poll season. We are able to save ₹ 1,000 a day. It is not just Congress alone, all parties are splurging,” the Tata Magic driver says.
In the background, vans equipped with loudspeakers blare ‘Rawat poore paanch saal’ giving locals the sense of an impending ballot war never seen earlier – one that features none other the chief minister himself.