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Tharali bypoll: BJP banks on sympathy wave, Cong taps ‘discontent’ over price rise

A year after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Uttarakhand polls with a thumping majority, the Trivendra Singh Rawat government is all set to face its first litmus test in the Tharali assembly by-election to be held on Monday

dehradun Updated: May 27, 2018 21:32 IST
Anupam Trivedi
Anupam Trivedi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Tharali bypoll,BJP
Chief minister TS Rawat addresses a public meeting during his campaign for Tharali by-election in Uttarakhand.(HT Photo)

A year after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Uttarakhand polls with a thumping majority, the Trivendra Singh Rawat government is all set to face its first litmus test in the Tharali assembly by-election to be held on Monday.

The BJP and the Congress are locked in a direct contest on the seat reserved for scheduled castes, though five candidates are in the fray, including two from the left parties and one independent.

The outcome of the bypoll, necessitated after the death of BJP legislator Magan Lal Shah, will indicate whether the ruling party, which won 57 of the 70 assembly seats last year, is still a popular choice in the state.

The BJP has fielded Magan Lal’s wife Munni Devi against former legislator Jeet Ram of the Congress. Though Jeet Ram, a professor in the Kumaon University, enjoys a substantial support in constituency, the BJP candidate banks on a strong sympathy after the death of her husband.

BJP state president Ajay Bhatt said his party’s connect with the voters, hard work of cadres, and the chief minister’s clean image would help them post an easy win.

“Although the result of the by-poll will not be a referendum on the work of our government, I am sure we will sail through easily,” said Bhatt who led the party’s campaign in the constituency. He claimed that the Congress’s negative image among voters would work against it.

The opposition Congress, which has put up a united face in the constituency, said “price rise” would prove too hot for the BJP. “Mark my word BJP will be nowhere after the results. Voters are facing price rise; they are not fools to believe BJP every now and then,” state Congress president Pritam Singh said.

Both the parties put up a show of strength during campaigning. Former chief minister Harish Rawat, party president Singh, former president Kishore Upadhyay and legislators attending roadshows and rallies to send a message that the Congress was fighting unitedly.

The BJP didn’t leave any stone unturned. CM Rawat, party president Bhatt, state in-charge Shyam Jaju, ministers camped in the constituency seeking votes.

Meanwhile, the Congress approached election authorities on Sunday, complaining that BJP MLAs were seeking votes in the constituency after the campaign time was over.

Election commission guidelines suggest that “outsiders” are to leave the constituency 48 before the polls, said Pritam Singh said.

Campaigning for the bypoll came to a close on Saturday. CM Rawat held two public meetings at Deval Bazar, Chamoli and Bhagoti in Narayanbagad to drum up support for the BJP candidate on the last day of campaigning.

Harish Rawat also addressed poll meetings besides attending roadshows and rallies to mobilise support for the Congress nominee.

First Published: May 27, 2018 21:31 IST