Tharali bypoll: Both BJP, Cong withdraw star campaigners, bet on local issues
Bypoll to the constituency, which fell vacant after the sudden demise of BJP MLA Magan Lal Shah earlier this year, is slated for May 28dehradun Updated: May 24, 2018 22:41 IST
Two days before canvassing for the bypoll to the Tharali assembly constituency ends, both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have withdrawn the list of star campaigners.
Bypoll to the constituency, which fell vacant after the sudden demise of BJP MLA Magan Lal Shah earlier this year, is slated for May 28. BJP has fielded Shah’s widow Munni Devi, while Congress has again given ticket to Jeet Ram, a former MLA who lost the seat to Shah in 2017 polls.
While state BJP president Ajay Bhatt has been campaigning in the area for the last one week, his Congress counterpart Pritam Singh too has reached Tharali to woo voters.
The bypoll is being seen as litmus test for the two parties ahead of local body polls that may be notified soon.
Earlier, the BJP had circulated a list of star campaigners including party chief Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and central ministers Smriti Irani and Thavar Chand Gehlot among others.
Congress too had announced names of 40 campaigners including its national president Rahul Gandhi, actor-turned-politician and UP party chief Raj Babbar and cricketer-turned Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu.
“We don’t think there’s any need of star campaigners, because we will win the seat,” a senior BJP party leader said.
Party’s national vice president, Shyam Jaju, is presently campaigning in the constituency and while joint general secretary Shiv Prakash canvassed there on May 18 and 19. Besides, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat too addressed rallies on May 22. Another of his public rally is slated on May 26, the last day of campaigning.
“We don’t want star campaigners at all. Our star campaigners are CM, Jaju Ji and ministers such as Satpal Maharaj, Dhan Singh Rawat, Yashpal Arya and others. We are going to win this election,” Bhatt said.
He said the party will win the polls on the basis of work done for the development of Utttarakhand.
Meanwhile, Congress too is leaving no stone unturned. At least half a dozen former ministers have already canvassed for Jeet Ram.
“If BJP is betting on Modi wave in this election, I know they will surely lose. The party was defeated in Karnataka and will now lose other elections too,” Pritam Singh said.
In a related development, Congress on Wednesday lodged a complaint with the state election office against CM and other ministers accusing them of “distributing” cash among the voters in Tharali. State Congress vice president Suryakant Dhasmana handed a memorandum to chief electoral officer Saujanya accusing CM of “carrying cash in his helicopter to distribute it among voters in the constituency”.
Terming it an open violation of the model code of conduct and misuse of government machinery to influence the electorate, the memorandum said choppers used by the chief minister to reach the constituency must be examined. “TS Rawat’s predecessor and senior Congress leader Harish Rawat underwent a similar procedure ahead of the Assembly polls last year,” the memorandum read.
The Congress and the BJP were engaged in a bitter war of words during last year’s assembly polls in the state after the former CM’s chopper was inspected by an Election Commission team in Haldwani on two different occasions.