While arguments over seat distribution for all parties have erupted into street protests in the past, the BJP’s decision to go with complicated poll calculations as opposed to the prerogatives of their incumbents and party loyalists has gone awry in an unprecedented fashion. Protests across the breadth of Uttarakhand erupted into angry rallies and resignations upon the release of the first list of candidates on January 3. Even in Kotdwar, the seat chosen for the chief minister, party workers “laid siege” to the party HQ in defense of the sitting MLA who was unceremoniously dumped without warning.
Seats that stand affected include Rajpur, Dhanolti, Kotdwar, Almora, Bageshwar, Kapkot, Lohaghat. Other controversial seat allocations raising questions include Karanprayag, Gangolihat, Champawat, Rudrapur, Kitcha, Sitarganj and Nainital constituencies.
Even the UKD’s own split has affected the BJP, as the party leadership’s decision to field two UKD (D) MLAs – Diwakar Bhatt in Devprayag and Om Gopal Rawat in Narendranagar – on the BJP ticket has alienated party workers in those two seats. However, this has elated the UKD(P) faction as it has vindicated its stance of breaking with the BJP as it now seems that the UKD (D) is heading for dissolution.
The Congress has its own problems with the spectre of disgraced former chief minister ND Tiwari making noises about throwing his own loyalists into the fray to split the party vote. It seems that despite everything, Tiwari commands enough support to affect prospects for several seats in Kumaon. However, at this point, party factions have shown unusual unity, motivated by the scent of power that seems close at hand.