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All set for municipal polling as campaigning ends

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By ArunPratap Singh

Dehradun, 16 Nov: Campaigning for the municipal polls in Uttarakhand ended at 5 pm today and now all is set for the polling which will be held on Sunday. On the last day of campaigning, all the candidates put in their all their energy and resources. The candidates however continued to canvass support on foot even after 5 pm since door to door canvassing is allowed and in the municipal polls, the constituencies are quite smaller. AAP held a very big rally in Dehradun today while the BJP and Congress held smaller rallies in various constituencies throughout the state.

In Dehradun, the fight is triangular for the Mayor’s post between BJP’s Sunil Uniyal Gama, Dinesh Agarwal of Congress and RajniRawat of AAP.

There is lot at stake for Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat not only in Dehradun but also in Doiwala and Satpuli (Pauri). In Dehradun, Gama is considered to his protégé but otherwise relatively less recognised among the masses. He was up against many party seniors like UmeshAgarwal, Puneet Mittal and others in his fight for the party ticket but still managed to get it only due to backing of Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. Therefore the results in Dehradun Nagar Nigam are bound to affect Rawat’s  image positively or negatively. Doiwala is his assembly constituency and there also, he played a direct role in ticket distribution for the Town Area polls (Nagar Panchayat polls). The ticket distribution in Doiwala caused lot of heartburns for lot of BJP workers and it is here that a large number of party workers and leaders but also leaders of organisations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and ABVP became rebel. In view of the fact that there was lot at stake for Rawat, disciplinary action was taken not only against the BJP leaders but also ABVP and VHP leaders and they were expelled by their respective organisations. In Satpuli in district Pauri, a close family member of Rawat is contesting for the post of Municipal chairperson and therefore his image is again at stake here. BJP has faced also strong rebellion in Rudrapur Municipal Council, where the party MLA RajkumarThukral himself is among those angry with the party leadership.

Congress too has faced rebellion in most local bodies but more is at stake for the BJP since it has not only been ruling majority of local bodies but also is the party in power in the state and the Centre.  There was no exodus seen in any party before the polls this time though some influential and senior leaders like Prithviraj Singh Chauhan switched over from Congress to the BJP.

The campaigning however remained subdued initially and it picked up only after Diwali. For Congress, the main star campaigner was former Chief Minister and currently AICC General Secretary Harish Rawat while BJP saw a larger array of star campaigners which included former CMs like Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Ramesh PokhriyalNishank, the current CM Trivendra Singh Rawat, Bhojpuri actor-singer and MP Manoj Tiwarias well as Union Minister of State Ajay Tamta besides some other Central leaders.  AAP’s Mayoral candidate RajniRawat was hoping for Delhi CM ArvindKejriwal to campaign for her but in this regard, she had to be disappointed.

The campaigning unfortunately for the people focussed more on performance of Modi Government as well as TrivendraRawat Government rather than local issues. While the Congress leaders like Harish Rawat was seen severely criticising Modi in every speech he gave during the polling process, while the BJP leaders were seen praising Modi Government. Local issues were mostly side-lined  in the campaigning.

The polling in each local body will be held through two ballot papers of different colour since EVMs are not being used in the local polls this time “due to non-availability of EVMs for the municipal polls. The Voters will have to stamp two ballot papers each. While one of the ballot paper will have candidates for the municipal corporators or ward members, the other will have names of candidates for the post of Mayor or Municipal chairperson. The Ballot boxes have reached their destinations already.  The State Election Commission has nominated 35 senior officers as observers for the polling. Counting will begin on 20 November and results are likely to take time due to lengthy process of counting of ballot papers but in smaller local bodies, results may come by the evening of 20 November itself.