Koshiyari up against the odds in Congress stronghold

Koshiyari up against the odds in Congress stronghold

Since 1951, Nainital has turned its face against the Congress only thrice, and that too for a period of nine years. 

This election, the question is whether senior BJP leader Bhagat Singh Koshiyari will add one more tenure for the non-Congress camp from Nainital-Uddhamsingh Nagar constituency.

Former Uttarakhand chief minister, Koshiyari, who was a journalist and teacher before he entered full-time politics, is no pushover. He is taking on two-time sitting Congress MP K C Singh Baba, a descendent of the Chand royals who ruled the Kumaon region. A sports enthusiast, Baba defeated the BJP’s Bachi Singh Rawat, a four-time MP from Almora, in the 2009 polls by 88,412 votes. But this time, the going appears to be tough due to Koshiyari’s entry as well as allegations of inaccessibility.

Adding more trouble is the sulking N D Tewari, veteran Congress leader and former chief minister, who was denied a party ticket to fight from his stronghold. Tewari had sought the ticket for himself or Rohit, whom he recently acknowledged as his son, but the Congress high command went with the sitting MP.

Fishing in troubled waters, 72-year-old Koshiyari sought 89-year-old Tewari’s blessings. Miffed with the Congress, Tewari gave his blessings saying Koshiyari is a capable leader who can complete his work. 

“I am sure he will accomplish my unfinished mission of bringing about development in the hills,” Tewari had then said.

However, the Congress is unperturbed as they feel Tewari does not have much sway in the constituency, which he had earlier.

Koshiyari has to win as his bete-noires in the party, B C Khanduri and Ramesh Nishank Pokhriyal, are also contesting the Lok Sabha polls and a loss would mean yielding space to them.

The BJP leader, whose term in the Rajya Sabha ends in November, started his campaign last month with a roadshow on a bullock cart to highlight the pathetic condition of roads in the state.

Meanwhile, Baba’s aides expect him to increase the margin of victory this time. In 2004, he had won the polls with a margin of 44,000 votes, while he doubled it (88,412 votes) in 2009.

Thirteen others, including candidates from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Aam Aadmi Party, are also in the fray. In the 2009 polls, BSP candidate Narayan Pal polled 1.43 lakh votes and this time the party has fielded a Muslim candidate in Laik Ahmed.