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Scramble for show of strength in U’khand


DEHRADUN, 23 Jan (IANS): Top leaders of both the ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress in Uttarakhand are resorting to dinner diplomacy, rallies and social media campaign in an apparent show of strength ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Congress Chief Pritam Singh launched a “parivartan yatra” on Monday from his Assembly constituency Chakrata that falls under Tehri parliamentary seat. But inclement weather coupled with heavy snowfall on Tuesday forced Singh to suspend the yatra for three days.
“The yatra will resume on January 25,” a party spokesman said.
Party sources said Singh had set his eyes on Tehri Lok Sabha constituency from where Kishore Upadhayay, former state Congress chief, has also staked his claim.
Both Upadhayay and Singh are political rivals. While Singh gets the backing of Leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh, Upadhayay usually banks on the support of Harish Rawat, the former Chief Minister and national General Secretary of Congress.
Upadhayay has launched a blistering campaign through the social media highlighting his work during his stint as PCC President in the past. His supporters are putting up his pictures with Congress President Rahul Gandhi to bolster his claim over the Tehri seat.
Harish Rawat has also started building his case by throwing fruit parties and embarking on rallies. Holding an umbrella on Wednesday, he took out a rally at Lohaghat of Champawat district amid heavy rains.
Recently, he organised a massive farmers’ rally in Haridwar from where he has shown interest in contesting the election. The rally was organised to highlight the plight of the sugarcane farmers, who are not getting their dues from sugar mills.
Sources close to Rawat said he is interested in contesting from two seats – Haridwar and Nainital. In 2009, Rawat won from Haridwar by a huge margin and became a Minister in the Manmohan Singh government.
Hridayesh, the leader of the opposition, is opposing Rawat in Nainital, especially after the defeat of her son Sumit Hridayesh in the Mayoral election in Haldwani city.
In the ruling BJP, the political situation is no different. Former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who joined the BJP after revolting against the Congress in 2016, has thrown a dinner party.
Party sources said Bahuguna was interested in contesting from Tehri seat much to the chagrin of the sitting BJP MP from Tehri Maharani Mala Rajya Lakshmi Shah. Shah was conspicuous by her absence at Bahuguna’s dinner party.
BJP stalwart and former Chief Minister BC Khanduri has declared that he would not contest from the Pauri seat this time apparently due to old age. He is the sitting MP from Pauri.
Shaurya Doval, son of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, has shown interest in contesting from Pauri. Vijay Bahuguna is also not averse to contesting from Pauri in case the party gives him the ticket.
Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj, who has contested elections from Pauri many times in the past, is also keen to contest from Pauri.
Woman Welfare Minister Rekha Arya has staked her claim from Almora seat, from where Union Textile Minister Ajay Tamta is the sitting MP.