Although Uttarakhand has just five Lok Sabha seats, for the political parties in the state, every seat matters. It’s a do or die battle for both the major political parties — the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Currently, the Congress has four seats in its kitty and the BJP has one. However, going by the present trend and public mood, it is not going to be a cakewalk for the ruling Congress. The party intends to repeat the 2009 polls show for all its sitting MPs, barring Harish Rawat from Haridwar constituency, since he is now the chief minister.
The BJP, on the other hand, is all set to field three former chief ministers from Pauri, Nainital and Haridwar. And the presence of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in at least three Lok Sabha constituencies — Nainital, Haridwar and Tehri — is not good news for the Congress either. The blue brigade has impressively increased its vote share in the last two Lok Sabha polls from nearly 6.5% to 15.5%.
The BSP could dent the Congress further since it is also eyeing minority votes — which the Congress feels would come to it anyway. Chief minister Rawat, on the other hand, knows this well and is therefore leaving no stone unturned. On Sunday, he met a Muslim delegation and heard their issues. He also promised them help for their development.
Nonetheless, experts feel that with Narendra Modi projected as prime ministerial candidate, the saffron party might polarise Hindu votes. Two parliamentary constituencies — Haridwar and Nainital — have a sizeable Muslim population, that of more than 30%.
Moreover, the general sentiment for change seems to be gripping Uttarakhand fast. The taxi operators of Rishikesh Taxi Treeker Union - who otherwise voted for the Congress in the previous polls - hinted that people are looking for change.
“Development is the buzz word and we are all very attracted with this word. We have seen a lot of destruction in June last year, and till date the infrastructure has not improved. Where is development? We are in mood of bringing a political change,” commented Ajay ‘Ajju’, who is the coordinator of the taxi drivers’ union. The anti-incumbency wave against the UPA government at the Centre and the Congress in the state is going to make things tough for the ruling party. There is hardly any presence of regional forces in Uttarakhand and therefore it is evidently clear that the BJP and the Congress would be directly fighting, with the BSP giving a fight in some segments. The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also tried to make inroads into the state in the recently, but voters in general are sceptical about its performance in the urban areas.