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Fear of Defections Haunts Congress, BJP in Uttarakhand

Both parties are working on strategies to keep their flock together by promising to suitably compensate the left out aspirants with important positions in the party and in various commissions and committees in case they form the government.

Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami speaks during a press conference, in Dehradun, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. (Image: PTI)

Dehradun: As the BJP and Congress are set to announce their list of candidates for the Uttarakhand Assembly polls, the fear of desertions by disgruntled aspirants is looming large over the two giants. Both parties are working on strategies to keep their flock together by promising to suitably compensate the left out aspirants with important positions in the party and in various commissions and committees in case they form the government.

Both parties began experiencing desertions a few months ago when cabinet minister Yashpal Arya and his MLA son Sanjiv Arya quit the BJP to join the Congress. Congress MLA Rajkumar returned to the BJP while two independent MLAs Pritam Singh Panwar and Ram Singh Kaira, too, joined the saffron party.

The possibility of ticket aspirants in both parties switching loyalties after the announcement of candidates cannot be ruled out, political observers said.

If that happens, the stakes will be higher for the BJP, which had won 57 of the total 70 Assembly seats in 2017.

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The party has been constantly assessing performances of its MLAs and those faring poorly in the party’s internal surveys may not be repeated, a party leader said.

The Congress does not have much to loose as tickets to its sitting MLAs are almost certain. However, the possibility of former MLAs and potential candidates, who have joined the party expecting a ticket, may spring a surprise if not fielded.

The two parties that are likely to be locked in straight contests in majority of the seats are in the final stages of deciding their candidates.

While the Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) has prepared its list of candidates for all the 70 constituencies, the BJP’s first list of 27 candidates is almost final, insiders in the two camps said.

Congress campaign head Harish Rawat clarified that the PCC has prepared its of candidates for all the 70 seats.

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On the other hand, state BJP president Madan Kaushik said final touches are being given to the list, which will be presented before the party’s central parliamentary board to take a final call.

The party is likely to issue two lists of candidates separately. One before the nomination begins on January 21 and the other by January 25, BJP sources said.

The party’s central parliamentary board is likely to meet on January 18 or 19, they said.

There are more than two claimants in both parties for several seats, party insiders said.

For example, there are seven seats in Udham Singh Nagar district alone, and both parties have at least two claimants for each of these seats, followed by Haridwar and Dehradun — both districts have six constituencies each.

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