The BJP, expecting a comeback in Uttarakhand, received a major jolt when chief minister BC Khanduri, who was brought back to office after a gap, lost from Kotdwar by more than 4,000 votes. Khanduri was earlier removed when the BJP lost all the five seats in Uttarakhand in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
This defeat reflected poorly on the BJP's central leadership, which gave the Khanduri Hai Zaroori (Khanduri is indispensable) slogan.
BJP insiders said Khanduri had earlier complained to the central leadership that a group close to Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who had replaced him as chief minister, was working against his interests. This started after the sitting BJP MLA from Kotdwar, Shailendra Singh Rawat, was dropped and Khanduri's name was announced as party candidate.
This came as a blow to Rawat, who was reportedly upset at the decision. After the initial flip-flop, though he joined Khanduri's camp, sources close to the BJP say most of the workers aligned themselves with the rival Congress camp.
Moreover, the slogan local versus outsider raised by Congress candidate Surendra Singh Negi worked against Khanduri. "It's a small state with small constituencies and grandiose hopes," Khanduri had told this correspondent during his campaign in Kotdwar.
Local slogans, coupled with intra-party activities, proved damaging for Khanduri.
"Being MP from the Pauri constituency, Khanduri represented the Kotdwar assembly segment, which is part of his parliamentary constituency. He, however, failed to sense the inner lobbying," said Arvind Moudgil, a journalist from Pauri.
"The local v/s outsider slogan was fuelled more by the BJP cadre," he said.
Khanduri was hopeful of getting support of former soldiers, who live in large numbers in Kotdwar. Rival Congress candidate Surendra Singh Negi also has an army background.