By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 21 Jan: BJP leader and former MLA from Narendra Nagar, who late last night had declared his intention to contest the assembly polls from Narendra Nagar as an independent after the sitting MLA and cabinet minister Subodh Uniyal was again given the ticket by the BJP, today took another direction and approached the Congress leadership. Sources in the Congress as well as those close to him confirmed that Om Gopal has been inducted into the party.
It may be recalled that Om Gopal had contested as an independent last time, too, against Uniyal who had switched over to BJP from Congress, but had lost the elections. However, he had still managed to poll over 19,000 votes as compared to around 24,000 votes for the winning candidate, Subodh Uniyal, and the Congress candidate Himanshu Bijalwan had been a distant third.
Om Gopal is a strong candidate and if he manages the Congress ticket, he can be a formidable rival for Subodh Uniyal. If sources are to be believed, Uniyal wanted to contest from a different constituency this time and leave the seat for Om Gopal who had returned to the BJP after the elections. However, as a matter of policy, all the ministers have been made to contest from their old seats by the BJP and therefore Uniyal too was not left with any choice but to contest from Narendra Nagar constituency only.
Meanwhile, rebellion against the ticket distribution is only increasing in the BJP. Many more ticket aspirants have now declared that they would contest the polls. Voices of dissatisfaction and dissent have also started erupting in the party. In some cases, the sitting MLAs are unhappy with the denial of ticket and, on the other, other aspirants have also started expressing displeasure over denial of ticket and they have accused the party leadership of ignoring their rightful claims. There are also reports of BJP workers resigning from the party in several assembly seats. However, in the midst of all this, the state leadership of the party has claimed that the situation is under control. Such things happen in every election and there is nothing new. It is now to be seen to what extent the party is able to exercise damage control.
Former MLA Mahavir Rangarh is one of the political heavyweights who has openly expressed dissatisfaction over ticket from the Dhanaulti seat of Tehri district to Pritam Panwar, who had joined the BJP just a few weeks ago. Rangarh said that after consulting with his workers and followers, he would take a final decision on contesting the assembly elections as an independent. He said that the final decision would be taken only after the release of the Congress list.
Munni Devi Shah, who was an MLA from Tharali seat, has also expressed displeasure over the denial of the ticket. She has asked the party leadership the reason for denial of the ticket and said that the party could have chosen some youth party workers in case it wanted a new face instead of giving ticket to a turncoat from Congress. At the same time, in Bhagwanpur also, the BJP Mandal President has announced his resignation from the party, expressing dissent over the ticket to Master Satyapal.
Dissent has also been reported from Karnaprayag (District Chamoli) as the ticket has been given to former MLA Anil Nautiyal for the Karnprayag assembly seat of Chamoli district. Angry over not getting the ticket, senior BJP leader and ticket contender Tika Prasad Maikhuri has decided to contest as an independent. In addition, party leader Surat Ram Nautiyal, who was former Vice President of Char Dham Development Council, too, has expressed dissatisfaction with the ticket for sitting MLA Mahendra Bhatt. Pawan Nautiyal plans to contest as an independent after not getting the ticket from Gangotri assembly seat.