The late polling date for the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand has forced major political parties to change their campaigning strategy in the state.
Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi
Uttarakhand will go to polls on the second-to-last leg on May 7 — almost a month from now — giving the candidates and their supporters a tough time in managing the campaign.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Left parties have announced their candidates. Barring SP and the Left due to a prior understanding, the BJP, BSP and Congress are contesting in all five LS seats. The Congress has so far announced their candidates for the Almora and Nainital parliamentary constituencies. Announcement for the remaining three seats is expected in a day or two.
In fact, as the polling date is falling next month, the parties are doing every bit to manage the campaign strategically. None of the parties want to scale up campaigning yet, as it would need a lot of effort and resources.
Currently, the candidates are conducting a door-to-door campaign, apart from holding road shows. The rallies of the ‘star speakers’ have not been planned yet.
“We have a long list of star campaigners, but we intend to use them only after the third week of April,” BJP’s media coordinator Abhimanyu Kumar said. The BJP has an advantage over its main rival Congress, as the saffron party announced its candidates much earlier.
In the last leg of campaigning, the BJP intends to hold the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rally in Haldwani - the epicenter of the Kumaon region. The party has plans of roping in star speakers like Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Sushma Swaraj in the last 10 days before polling.
The Congress, on the other hand, is dependent on the Gandhi family. The party says they have not chalked out the plan for campaigning, but there is a demand from district units to organise the rallies of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
The reason, feel party leaders, is Gandhi’s charisma to beat the Modi wave. Even chief minister Harish Rawat will reach out to the voters.
“We have no dearth of good orators. The CM has started touring the state. The Congress will give nightmares to the BJP,” said Vijay Saraswat, the party’s general secretary.
The BSP and the SP are relying on their party president. “Mayawati will address about two rallies here. Moreover, former minister Ramachal Rajbhar and Nasimuddin Siddiqui will also address poll meetings,” said Meghraj, the BSP president.
Meghraj, however, added that his party believes in less pomp and show. The BSP’s rival Samajwadi Party has asked Mulayam Singh, cabinet minister Azam Khan and UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to hold rallies in Nainital and Haridwar.