In these elections, the Congress will face a major challenge from its own rebels rather than the BJP candidates. The Congress rebels are up in arms against the party in at least six of the 10 constituencies of Dehradun district. They are contesting as independents, not caring about the action the party would take against them.
Leaving aside Chakrata, Rajpur, Dharampur and Vikas Nagar constituencies, Congress candidates are bound to face potential rebels in all the assembly segments of Tehri Lok Sabha constituency in Dehradun district. This will directly benefit the main opposition BJP, which faces the anti-incumbency factor.
In Mussoorie assembly segment, no sooner than the party announced the name of sitting Congress MLA Jot Singh Gunsola as official nominee, Upendra Thapli, a PCC executive committee member, resigned along with his wife and Dehradun district panchayat member Godavari Thapli to field the latter as independent candidate.
Godavari filed her nomination as independent candidate from Mussoorie on Wednesday. Records show that Upendra Thapli has a strong presence in the rural belts of Mussoorie, mainly towards Dehradun. He had polled around 8,000 votes in the 2004 parliamentary elections as independent candidate. "The Congress has betrayed us. Godavari's name was almost finalised during scrutiny of candidatures but turned down in the end. We are answerable to our voters as they want us to fight," said Upendra.
Similar is the case of Sahaspur where Congress rebels have ganged up to field a common candidate Gulzar against the party's official nominee Arendra Sharma. Gulzar will definitely dent the Congress' Muslim vote bank.
Muslim votes are the mainstay of the Congress in Sahaspur. Another Muslim Congress leader, Akil Ahmed has also decided to contest as independent candidate from here. Gulfal Ali, yet another Muslim candidate from Samajwadi Party, may also erode the minority vote share of the Congress. Congress nominee from Doiwala assembly segment Heera Singh Bisht is also facing strong rebellion from SP Singh. Bisht's handicap is that he is considered as an outsider and pitched against former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.
A reluctant Singh, whose name was almost cleared by the party but cancelled at the last moment, has refused to back out. "I was confident of my nomination but it was turned down. Now I am here to stay as independent candidate without any iota of doubt. My people are behind me," he said.
Congress' official nominee in Rishikesh Rajpal Kharola is also facing intense opposition from the party's sitting municipal council president Deep Sharma who has already filed nominations two days ago.
Sharma has a huge following in the city, for he won the municipal board election twice as independent candidate. Sharma, a loyalist of union minister Harish Rawat, has refused to backtrack, threatening the chances of the official nominee. Although Vikasnagar and Garhi Cant assembly constituencies are yet to see any nomination from rebel candidates, sources say that rebels will spring up here as well on Thursday, the last day of nominations.