Monday, Oct 03, 2022

Will The Sitting CM Jinx And Other Poll Myths Be Shattered In Uttarakhand This Time?

No party has come back to power again in the past four elections in the hilly state of Uttarakhand.

Voting. (Representative image)
Voting. (Representative image) Shutterstock

Assembly elections in Uttarakhand have come to be associated with many a curious myth over the years. Ever since it was carved out of Uttar Pradesh as a new state in 2000, no party has returned to power in the past four elections. Besides, all education ministers of successive regimes have faced defeat --  even a sitting Chief Minister has failed to become an MLA. Also, there are at least two seats, which have proved lucky for the winning side. Whichever party has won the polls from there has ultimately formed the government in the state.

Two years after the state was formed in 2000, BJP lost power to Congress in 2002. In 2007, neither Congress nor BJP got a clear majority. But with the support of independent MLAs, the BJP was able to form the government. In 2012, the ruling BJP missed the opportunity by only one seat leading to the formation of the Congress government. In 2017, BJP bounced back with a thumping majority getting 57 out of 70 seats.

Elections were recently held on February 14. Now, all eyes are on the assembly poll results which will be announced on March 10. Over the last three elections, the myth of the sitting Chief Minister not being able to become an MLA has become so strong that this time there is a lot of curiosity about the fate of the incumbent CM Pushkar Singh Dhami, who is contesting from Khatima seat. 

In the past, regardless of whether a sitting Chief minister has contested the assembly election or not, he has failed to return to hold the rein of power for different reasons for his consecutive term.

In the 2007 elections, the then Chief Minister ND Tiwari of Congress did not contest but in the 2012 elections, the then CM BC Khanduri of BJP had to face defeat from the Kotdwar seat. In 2017, Congress’s Chief minister Harish Rawat contested from two seats, Haridwar Rural and Kichha, but he lost in both the constituencies. In fact, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who was the Chief minister in 2001-02, has been the only exception among the chief ministers who did not face defeat. In 2002, he was elected an MLA on the BJP ticket but Congress got the opportunity to form the government at that time.

The myth of the defeat of the successive education ministers of the state seems to have also strengthened since 2002. Education Minister Tirath Singh Rawat of BJP's interim government after the formation of the state and Education Minister Narendra Singh Bhandari in Congress's ND Tiwari government could not reach the assembly in the next polls. The education minister of the Khanduri government In 2007, Govind Singh Bisht also lost the 2012 elections. Minister Prasad Naithani, who was the Education Minister in the Congress government, also had to face defeat in 2017. This time, all eyes are on Education Minister Arvind Pandey in the Dhami government, who is contesting from the Gadarpur seat.

There are at least three seats here, which are widely believed to have held the key to power in the hilly state. One such seat is the Gangotri assembly. There is a popular perception that whichever party wins this seat, goes to form the government. Vijaypal Sajwan of Congress won it in 2002 and 2012 while in 2007 and 2017, Gopal Rawat of BJP won from there and their respective parties formed the government.

Kotdwar seat also has such a myth attached to its name. Whichever party has won this seat in the past has formed the government. When Surendra Singh Negi of Congress was victorious from Kotdwar in 2002, N.D. Tiwari of Congress formed the government. When Shailendra Rawat of BJP won in 2007, his party formed the government under the leadership of Khanduri. In 2012, once again Surendra Singh Negi of Congress won the seat leading to the formation of the Congress government. Similarly, in 2017, when Harak Singh Rawat, who joined BJP after rebelling from Congress recently, was elected MLA, the BJP formed the government. This time, Surendra Singh Negi from Congress was pitted against BJP’s Ritu Khanduri, daughter of BC Khanduri from this seat.

It is not that such myths related only to power in Uttarakhand. Ranikhet seat of Almora district has a completely different myth about it. Actually, whoever wins the people of this region has to sit in the Opposition. In 2002, when Ajay Bhatt of BJP became the MLA of Ranikhet, the government was formed by Congress. In 2007, when Karan Mahara of Congress won, the BJP formed the government. Similarly, when Ajay Bhatt of BJP won again in 2012, Congress formed the government. In 2017,  BJP's veteran candidate Ajay Bhatt lost the election to Karan Mehra of Congress even though his party swept the polls in the state.

Whether the results this time will shatter these myths or strengthen them further will be known after the counting of votes on March 10.