Home Dehradun Interesting electoral battle ahead on Haridwar seat

Interesting electoral battle ahead on Haridwar seat

Harish Rawat

By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 24 Mar: Finally, last night, the Congress declared its candidates from Haridwar and Nainital seats. As indicated by Garhwal Post, veteran Congress leader Harish Rawat managed to prevail upon the party’s top leadership to grant the ticket to his son Virender Rawat from Haridwar. Though the party had been initially pressurising Harish Rawat to contest from Haridwar, sources say that he had been hesitating to do so. With his daughter Anupama Rawat already a party MLA from Haridwar Rural seat and his son Virender Rawat now a Congress candidate from Haridwar Lok Sabha seat, there is finally a generational shift in the Congress politics in Uttarakhand.

Anupama Rawat

It may also be recalled that Harish Rawat belongs to Almora district but for the past decade and a half, he has nurtured Haridwar district as his political battleground, ostensibly because of its demographic character. Haridwar district has a Muslim population of around 33 percent, Dalit population of around 20 percent and OBC population of around 38 percent. The majority of OBC votes in Uttarakhand and Western UP have been going to BJP, having shifted from the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). This demography has worked rather well for Congress as far as Assembly elections are concerned.

Virender Rawat

Congress currently holds 5 assembly seats from Haridwar district in the state assembly. However, the Haridwar Parliamentary seat comprises 3 assembly segments from Dehradun district (Doiwala, Rishikesh and Dharampur) in addition to 11 assembly segments from Haridwar district. This balances out the vote bank power of Muslims to some extent as far as Parliamentary elections are concerned. In all the three segments from Dehradun district, in the past fifteen years or so, there has been large scale migration from the hills.

Ramesh Pokhriyal

These voters have voted strongly in favour of the ‘Pahari’ candidate Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in the past two elections, who has also managed to secure a significant chunk of Brahmin votes besides the cadre vote of BJP. Now that Nishank is no more the BJP candidate, the party has put up a Rajput candidate in the form of Trivendra Singh Rawat, who is up against another Rajput candidate, Virender Rawat of the Congress, who has the powerful backing of his father, Harish Rawat. Hence, an interesting battle is on the cards. BSP candidate Bhavana Pandey and independent candidate Umesh Kumar, who is an independent MLA from Khanpur (Haridwar), have turned this contest into a multi-cornered one.

Umesh Kumar

In the meanwhile, BSP’s Dalit face in Haridwar, Subodh Rakesh today joined the BJP along with a large number of his supporters. It may be recalled that Rakesh is the brother-in-law of Congress MLA from Bhagwanpur, Mamta Rakesh, making the battle even more interesting.

At the same time, Prakash Joshi has been given the Congress ticket from Nainital on account of his close contact with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi rather than on the basis of any survey or party support. Joshi has been Congress National Secretary, too, in the past and because of his proximity to Rahul Gandhi had been given the assembly ticket in 2012 and in 2017 and, both times, he lost to BJP’s veteran leader Banshidhar Bhagat. Two-time former MP Mahendra Pal had been demanding the Congress ticket from Nainital, but this time he could not secure it. Last time, too, Pal was denied the ticket at the last moment, when it was given to veteran Congress leader Harish Rawat in 2019.  Prakash Joshi is up against two-time MP and Union Minister Ajay Bhatt of BJP.