Chief minister B C Khanduri, his predecessor Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and state Congress president Yashpal Arya are some of the top politicians who are ‘scouting’ for safe assembly constituencies ahead of the coming polls, after their own seats ceased to exist following delimitation.
There are three main parties whose top-rung politicians are looking for safe options: the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the opposition Congress and the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (P), a prominent regional outfit. Of the top BJP leaders, C M Khanduri is stated to be keen to contest from Kotdwar after the Dhumakot assembly seat he had been representing was rendered non-existent following delimitation.
However, according to sources in the BJP, Khanduri may also be fielded either from Doiwala (Dehradun) or Lansdowne. His predecessor Nishank is reportedly lobbying for a ticket from Srinagar (Pauri) and Doiwala. The former chief minister had been an MLA from Thalisain (Pauri Garhwal), which no longer exists following delimitation. The process also saw the Dehradun assembly constituency (represented by speaker Harbans Kapoor regularly for six times in a row) being rendered non-existent, forcing the veteran BJP leader to look for a safe alternative. According to party insiders, he has been lobbying hard to get a ticket from the newly constituted Dehradun (Cantonment) assembly constituency.
Following suit are three top Congress leaders. Apart from state Congress president Arya, the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, Harak Singh Rawat and former state cabinet Minister Amrita Rawat are also reportedly looking for safe seats. Arya, a scheduled caste leader who had been representing the now defunct Mukteshwar assembly seat, is said to be lobbying for a ticket from Bajpur (U S Nagar).
The grapevine says he (Arya) has also been strongly lobbying with the party high command to ensure that his son Sanjiv also gets a ticket from Nainital, which has been reconstituted as a `reserved’ assembly constituency.
Similarly, Rawat, who had been an MLA from the now non-existent Lansdowne (Pauri Garhwal) assembly constituency, has also been lobbying for Doiwala assembly constituency.
So, Rawat and Nishank (stated to be friends since college days) might find themselves crossing swords with each other if their respective parties allow them to contest from Doiwala. Former minister and Congress MLA from Bironkhal (Pauri Garhwal), Amrita Rawat is stated to be keen to contest from Ramnagar constituency.
Ditto for the UKD-P’s patron Kashi Singh Aery and its ex-president Dr Narain Singh Jantwal who will be contesting from Dharchula (Pithorgarh) and Kaladhungi (Nainital) respectively. Aery had lost from Kanalichina (Pithoragarh) in 2007. The seat has now ceased to exist as a result of the delimitation. Jantwal will be contesting from Kaladhungi after the delimitation process saw Nainital, a general category assembly seat being accorded a reserved status, says UKD—P president Trivendra Singh Panwar.
Significantly, however, none of these top politicians is seeking elections from hills. The assembly seats all of them are scouting for fall in the plain districts.