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5 Lok Sabha seats of Uttarakhand to undergo polls in 1st phase on Friday

Former chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is contesting in place of Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank from Haridwar and Anil Baluni in place of Tirath Singh Rawat from Pauri Garhwal.
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 08:17 IST
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 08:17 IST

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Dehradun: Polling for the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand will be held on Friday with the BJP aiming to retain the seats for a third time and the Congress looking to regain lost ground in the state.

Voting will begin at 7 am across 11,729 polling stations and continue until 5 pm, Additional Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Kumar Jogdande said.

The BJP won all the five seats in Uttarakhand in 2014 and 2019 general elections.

The five seats going to polls on Friday are Haridwar, Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar and the lone reserved seat of Almora.

More than 83 lakh voters will decide the fate of 55 candidates in the fray.

Sitting BJP MPs Ajay Bhatt, Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah and Ajay Tamta have been fielded by the party from Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar, Tehri Garhwal and Almora, respectively.

The BJP has replaced its candidates in Haridwar and Pauri Garhwal.

Former chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is contesting in place of Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank from Haridwar and Anil Baluni in place of Tirath Singh Rawat from Pauri Garhwal.

The Congress has fielded former PCC president Ganesh Godiyal from Pauri Garhwal, former chief minister Harish Rawat's son Virendra Rawat from Haridwar, Jot Singh Gunsola from Tehri Garhwal, Prakash Joshi from Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar and Pradeep Tamta from Almora.

Candidates from the Bahujan Samaj Party, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and relatively smaller outfits and Independents are also in the fray but straight contests are likely between traditional rivals -- the BJP and Congress -- in all the seats.

Campaigning for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections ended on Wednesday evening.

The nearly month-long campaign, which started gathering momentum only a fortnight ago, saw the BJP's star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, party national president J P Nadda and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, hold a series of election rallies and road shows in different parts of the state.

The Congress' star campaigners were missing from the landscape until April 13 when party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed her first poll rallies in Ramnagar and Roorkee in support of her party's candidates from Haridwar, Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar and Pauri Garhwal seats.

She asked the people to vote for change and accused the Modi government of doing nothing except lying to the people in the past 10 years.

"Vote wisely. Otherwise, your daily struggles will continue for another five years," she warned.

The BJP leaders on the other hand sought another term for Modi to build a developed India of which Uttarakhand is an essential part and highlighted the steps taken by the BJP-led NDA government over the last 10 years to strengthen road, rail and air connectivity infrastructure in the state.

Political experts here feel that while the BJP's promise of a stable government in the hill state might succeed in wooing voters to again choose the saffron party, there is resentment among people due to unemployment, inflation and continued migration from the hills.

Some seats like Pauri Garhwal and Haridwar might also witness a tough fight between the BJP and the Congress, they said. Congress candidate Godiyal has aggressively campaigned and said the contest in Pauri Garhwal is between an insider (himself) and outsider (Baluni). His poll meetings also drew large crowds.

The experts added that Haridwar's demography, which has substantial minority and Dalit votes, may also not be a cakewalk for BJP's Trivendra Rawat despite his advantage over his rival in terms of experience as Congress veteran Harish Rawat, who had won the seat in 2009, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure his son's victory from the seat.

"If the Modi factor works again as it did in 2014 and 2019 overriding all other factors, the BJP will obviously reap the benefits but if unemployment, inflation, continued migration from the hills and performance of BJP MPs over the past 10 years outweigh the national issues, the Congress will gain," political analyst Jaisingh Rawat said.

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Published 18 April 2024, 08:17 IST

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