There seems to be a close fight between the Congress’ sitting MP, Pradeep Tamta, and his nearest rival, Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Ajay Tamta in the battle for Almora, a reserved Lok Sabha seat.
The BJP candidate though appears to be enjoying an edge over his rival, thanks to the ‘Modi wave’ and the factor of anti-incumbency against the ruling Congress.
However, there is one major advantage that goes in Pradeep’s favour. He is contesting from Almora, which is chief minister Harish Rawat’s home district. Besides, Pradeep, who also hails from that area, is also a known protégé of the CM who is one of the “tallest” Congress leaders in the state.
Besides, the Congress candidate is a leader “thrown up” by social movements. That’s surely an advantage for a politician contesting election. But the biggest advantage that Pradeep can count on is his being the protégé of a local boy who is occupying the CM’s post, no less.
“But, our local boy is somebody who cares for his people and, therefore, initiated a series of measures for his area’s development within just two months after he took over as the CM. Pradeep is sure to reap rich electoral dividends, thanks to those initiatives,” claimed Prakash Joshi, a Congress leader based in Almora town.
According to him, the steps taken by CM Rawat pertain to improving the basic infrastructure like roads, water supply etc. “The recurring water scarcity is the biggest problem facing this (Almora) constituency…However, it will be resolved after the CM pushed for the construction of a barrage on the river Kosi”, Joshi said.
“Besides, the key infrastructures like a medical college are also coming up in this district, thanks to his (CM) initiatives”, he informed.
Besides, the CM personally canvassing for his (Congress) candidate would also benefit the latter, Joshi said.
In fact, Rawat seems to have made it a prestige issue that his protégé gets reelected from the Almora LS seat. For that he is “leaving literally no stone unturned” and is even trying to touch the right chord to ensure that the Congress candidate reenters parliament. That was evident from his Saturday’s whirl-wind tour of Almora.
“There is a lot at stake… Even my continuance in the CM’s post would depend on whether our candidates win all the five LS seats in the state”, Rawat said making a fervent appeal to “his people” to vote for the Congress if they want their local boy to continue in the top post (CM).
But the question is: will all such tactics really translate into votes? “It is too early to say because a full month is still left for the polling day”, said Kaushal Kishore Saxena, a journalist based at Almora. “However, the fact is that we seldom saw our sitting MP (Pradeep Tamta) visiting his constituency…he was though frequently seen on TV screens”, he regretted.
Kaushal said that the past five years witnessed a massive migration from the various areas falling in the Almora parliamentary constituency.
“That speaks a lot about the lack of both employment opportunities and basic facilities this entire (Almora) region is grappling with”, he pointed out.
According to Kaushal, the biggest factor going against the ruling Congress in the Almora parliamentary constituency, however, is the ‘Modi wave.’
No wonder, if the BJP workers in Almora appear confident about their candidate’s victory. “Ajayji (Ajay Tamta) will win this (Almora) LS seat by a massive margin”, said Raghunath Singh Chauhan, a former BJP MLA from Baramandal (Almora).
“All factors are favouring him-right from a strong party orgnisation to the anti-incumbency to that mounting countrywide craze for our prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi”, he told HT.