Dehradun, April 10 (IANS) After losing from two Assembly seats in 2017, Congress General Secretary Harish Rawat’s clout is at stake as he is locked in an intense electoral battle with Uttarakhand BJP President Ajay Bhatt in the prestigious Nainital seat, which will go to polls on Thursday.
It’s a straight duel between Rawat and Bhatt, though BSP’s Navneet Agarwal is also likely to get votes from the sizeable Dalit and Muslim population in the area.
Rawat, known for his astute election skills, faced three consecutive defeats in 1990s in the hands of BJP’s Bachi Singh Rawat from the Almora seat. In 2004, he pitted his wife Renuka against Bachi singh Rawat, but failed to taste success.
After Almora seat became reserved, Rawat shifted base to Haridwar where he won the parliamentary election in 2009 with a huge margin and became a Minister in the Manmohan Singh ministry.
In 2014, he became the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand but lost both the Assembly seats he contested in 2017.
This time, Rawat shifted base to Nainital after getting the whiff that sitting BJP member Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, a former Chief Minister, will not contest.
Rawat, being bullied by the BJP for suffering a series of defeats, has remained unperturbed. “I have my own conviction and courage. I am a determined man and the people are with the Congress this time,” he said.
Bhatt too exuded confidence that he would win with a big margin. “The Narendra Modi wave is at its peak now. We will win with huge margin,” said Bhatt who is contesting the parliamentary election for the first time.
While Bhatt is getting support from Koshiyari and other top state BJP leaders, Rawat is being backed by the half a dozen party MLAs of Congress.
The Leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh, a known opponent of Rawat, claimed that she has organised eight public meetings in the Haldwani area in favour of Rawat.