By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 29 Jun: Bhupesh Pant, younger brother of late Prakash Pant and Suresh Joshi, BJP Spokesman have emerged as top contenders for Pithoragarh Assembly seat which had fallen vacant due to sudden demise of the incumbent MLA and Cabinet Minister Prakash Pant on 5 June.
Sources in the BJP claim that the party was in no hurry to finalise its candidate since the seat had to be filled up within six months of falling vacant. Technically, it can be filled up to 4 December. However, the Election Commission of India, usually clubs together the vacant seats from across various states and holds simultaneous elections for such constituencies. Keeping this in mind, the party has started taking feedback from its local cadre in Pithoragarh towards finalising the candidate.
Suresh Joshi is a senior party leader with a long background of committed full time party work. He has been a contender to the party ticket from Pithoragarh even when Prakash Pant was alive. Once, Pant lost the assembly elections from there in 2012, he became a major contender. In 2012, Pant had lost election against Mayukh Mahar of Congress who hails from a family of big zamindars with lot of resources by a big margin. Sources close to him admit that he seriously mulled switching over to Lalkuan assembly seat in Nainital seat and had started nurturing this constituency seriously. However, in between, Pant was forced to contest a bypoll against the then CM, Vijay Bahuguna from Sitarganj and had lost the election by a huge margin. Pant continued to do cultivate his base in Lalkuan seat, and meanwhile, Suresh Joshi had become very active in Pithoragarh.
In 2017, Pant was not very confident of winning in Pithoragarh and feared sabotage by some party workers at the instance of those party leaders who wanted him to move out of the constituency. Sources close to him had then claimed that these party leaders had a backing of some big leaders in the state. However, at the last minute, he was asked to contest from Pithoragarh only instead of Lalkuan and managed to hold the seat despite some sabotage attempts by certain party leaders.
Suresh Joshi was meanwhile asked to shift to Dehradun and given charge of state spokesman by the party and asked to hold daily press conferences in Dehradun during the assembly polls. Some party workers claim that the rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Pithoragarh in 2017 had turned the tide in Pant’s favour and he comfortably managed to defeat Mahar.
Now that Pant is no more, Joshi is again lobbying for the party ticket from Pithoragarh. On the other hand, Bhupesh Pant, younger brother of late Prakash Pant, is hopeful of the party ticket on the grounds of sympathy wave prevalent due to demise of Pant, who was known to be a thorough gentleman and easily approachable. The last rites of his mortal remains were performed in Pithoragarh and this solemn ritual was attended by a large section of the local population.
Sources claimed that the party was also mulling on the name of the widow of Prakash Pant, Chanda Pant as the probable party candidate in order to gain sympathy vote. They said that any other name was out of consideration. It is going to be either of these three names.
Officially, the party claimed that so far nothing had been discussed at any level in the party in this respect and a suitable decision would be taken at an appropriate time and for the time being, it was time for the party to get busy with the upcomoing Panchayat polls which the party was taking very seriously.