Sunday, Sep 25, 2022

Uttarakhand Assembly Elections: Why Is There A Turmoil In BJP Before Poll Results?

Among half-a-dozen MLAs including a cabinet minister in Uttarakhand, who had contested the poll, few have repeatedly accused their own party seniors of ‘sabotage’.

BJP flags. (Representative image)
BJP flags. (Representative image) PTI

Less than a week after voting for 70 assembly seats in Uttarakhand -- a state carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000 -- the ruling BJP is finding itself in an unexpected political turmoil over what went wrong during the poll.

Among half-a-dozen MLAs including a cabinet minister, who had contested the poll, few have repeatedly accused their own party seniors of ‘sabotage’.

Although many foresee their result of heightened uneasiness about a possible defeat on March 10, when the poll results will be announced, accusations are undoubtedly a clear reflection of factionalism within the saffron party that has changed three Chief Ministers. And one of them, Tirath Singh Rawat, was in the saddle for barely four months.

The party went to the polls with a slogan – “Ab ki baar 60” (This time, we (BJP) will cross 60-mark) now asserts that the contest was a close one but they will cross half-a-way mark, attributing the loss to internal sabotage rather than non-performance, price rise, unemployment, migration and non-fulfilment electoral promises like providing a stable government.

The latest to hit the party is a war of attrition, which the BJP leaders seem to have picked up to create a narrative contrary to the party’s claims about being a disciplined organisation. That’s what must worry the BJP's high command ahead of the results in the five states, especially Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Uttarakhand, where the BJP was in power for the last five years.

“We will win the election and will form the government. I am also in the winning position but with a reduced margin. This is certainly because of sabotage and undercutting. Maybe similar things have happened elsewhere too," said Kedar Singh Rawat, a sitting MLA and candidate from Yamunotri, while speaking Outlook. Yamunotri is a part of the Tehri Garhwal parliamentary constituency. 

Rawat had won from this constituency twice -- earlier in 2007 as a Congress candidate but lost in 2012 to Pritam Singh Panwar, of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal.

The first to rack up the sabotage issue was Sanjay Gupta, a two-time sitting BJP MLA  from Laskar (Hardwar) whose video clip went viral relating to allegations of sabotage even targeting state BJP president Madan Kaushik and his men.

He has asked the party leadership for an inquiry and action against Kaushik.

When contacted, Gupta declined to comment adding. “It’s an internal party matter. I will not say anything to the media."

After his allegations, the party leadership in Delhi had summoned Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and Kaushik to Delhi and tried to understand the seriousness of the allegations. Local BJP leaders claim that Gupta, who is considered close to the Chief Minister, has deliberately trained his guns at the party president.

Other MLAs, who have gone public about plotting their defeat, included senior BJP MLA (Kashipur) Harbhajan Singh Cheema and Champawat  MLA Kailash Chandra Gahtori. Cheema‘s son Trilok Singh Cheema is in the fray this time.

Kashipur, when it was a part of UP, had also remained a strong bastion of former Chief Minister N D Tiwari but gradually built its strong inroads in this region.

The party candidate from Dehradun's Cantonment seat Savita Kapoor, who was given a ticket after the demise of her husband, has also levelled allegations against some leaders working against the party.

Also joining them include sitting cabinet minister  Bishan Singh Chufal, who is a candidate from Didihat ( Pithoragarh district) in the Kumaon region. Not ruling out chances of undercutting in his constituency, he quickly adds, “BJP, in any case, is returning back to power “.

“Naturally, the BJP high command or disciplinary committee of the party will look into the cases of undercutting once the poll results are out. We are going to form the government despite all tall claims of the Congress," he told Outlook.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who since has returned to Dehradun, after the polling told media persons that the BJP was on its way out. The trends in voting show that Congress has a clear edge and will form the government. It’s because of this, the BJP is passing through tense movements.

The BJP is also trying to fight the myth that the incumbent party had never returned to power in Uttarakhand as has been the case in Himachal Pradesh -- another BJP ruled state which will go to the polls in November 2022.