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Top Congress leaders facing speed breakers

Riding on an anti-incumbency wave, the Congress is hoping to win the Uttarakhand poll. However, there seem to be 'speed breakers' coming in the way of top leaders as they are stuck between rebels and complex local equations.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2012 15:49 IST
Anupam Trivedi

Riding on an anti-incumbency wave, the Congress is hoping to win the Uttarakhand poll. However, there seem to be 'speed breakers' coming in the way of top leaders as they are stuck between rebels and complex local equations.

Prominent party leaders whose seats are in focus include leader of opposition Harak Singh Rawat, deputy leader of opposition Tilak Raj Behad, state Congress president Yashpal Arya, former minister Indra Hridyesh and Manish Tiwari, nephew of veteran Congress leader ND Tiwari. Barring Manish others are old timers in politics.

Rawat, a self-proclaimed chief ministerial candidate contesting from Rudraprayag, has failed to mollify rebels Bharat Singh Chaudhary and Virendra Bisht, both of whom are doing their best to dent Rawat's chances. Rawat, who has been tagged as 'outsider', is facing a multi-cornered contest in Rudraprayag. Due to rebels the Rudraprayag seat, which a section of Rawat supporters thought was an easy option, has turned out to be the most challenging one for the flamboyant leader.

In Kumaon region's Rudrapur seat, two-time Congress MLA Behad, a Punjabi, is facing another Punjabi leader Rajkumar Thakural of BJP. Former chairman of Rudrapur city board, Thakural, too, has a decent support among Punjabis. To add to Behad's test, sitting Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Premanand Mahajan has shifted from Pantnagar-Gadarpur seat to Rudrapur. Post Hindu-Muslim riots in Rudrapur, the move of Muslim voters is being closely watched in this industrial city.

Arya is also facing an odd situation in Bazpur (SC reserved) segment. Rajkumar, a dalit rebel Congress candidate contesting as an independent, has potential to eat up a big chunk of dalit votes. Despite repeated ultimatums, Rajkumar refused to withdraw his nomination. Interestingly, Arya preferred Bazpur over Nainital (SC reserved) but Rajkumar's local connection seems to have changed the permutations and combinations as he is considered to be having a good following among dalits.

Newly-carved out Gadarpur seat is no different. The sleepy constituency came in the news after ND Tiwari pushed his nephew Manish as the Congress candidate. Gadarpur is indeed a litmus test for Tiwari and Congress, in general. One local Congress rebel Jarnel Singh is giving jitters to the Congress here.

Not very long back Congress leaders maintained a safe distance from Tiwari after he was forced to resign as Governor of Andhra Pradesh owing to leaked sleazy tapes. The same Tiwari is now a most sought-after leader among Congressmen. Tiwari is these days touring the terai belt. Party candidates believe Tiwari's presence might swing votes in Congress' favour.

There is a mad rush for sharing the dais with Tiwari and so his next few days are very busy. He held road shows in support of Indra Hridyesh in Haldwani, who lost the last poll to BJP.