The contest in the hill State, which was largely between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), concluded by the victory of the BJP over all five seats on Friday.
The State, which was formed in the year 2000, witnessed its third Lok Sabha polls on May 7. In the year 2004 the BJP won three seats, and the Congress and the SP won one seat each. In the year 2009 the Congress won all five seats in the State.
In the 2009 general election, the former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna won from Tehri. However, in the 2012 by-elections, his son Saket Bahuguna lost BJP’s Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah by 22,694 votes. The two again contested against each other, but, this time Ms. Shah won against Mr. Saket Bahuguna by a large margin of 1.92 lakh votes.
The Congress was witnessing a strong anti-incumbency in the State, much of which was a result of the shoddy rehabilitation and reconstruction works under the Vijay Bahuguna government. In February Harish Rawat took over as the State’s Chief Minister. The change of guard happened three months before the Lok Sabha polls so that Mr. Rawat could redeem the image of his party in the State.
The first shock to the Congress came with its MP from the Pauri seat Satpal Maharaj defecting to the BJP in March. Mr. Maharaj would contest against BJP stalwart B.C. Khanduri on the Pauri seat. After his defection it was a tough task for the Congress to find a candidate who could compete with Mr. Khanduri.
With three former BJP chief ministers contesting the polls – Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank from Haridwar, Mr. Khanduri from Pauri and Bhagat Singh Koshiyari from Nainital – the party already had an upper hand. While the BJP had announced its candidates by mid-March, the announcement by the Congress happened in the second week of April, this to added to BJP’s advantage.
Mr. Rawat won from the Hardwar seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. This time his wife Renuka Rawat represented the seat for the Congress. Though the Hardwar contest was being perceived as a tough one, on Friday Ms. Rawat lost to Mr. Nishank by 1.77 lakh votes.
On all five seats the contest was largely between the Congress and the BJP. Mr. Koshiyari who was the BJP candidate from the Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar seat won by 2.84 lakh votes against K.C. Singh Baba from the Congress, who was the sitting MP from the seat.
BJP stalwart Mr. Khanduri, who has served four terms as an MP from the Pauri seat, won from the same seat again by 1.84 lakh votes against Harak Singh Rawat from the Congress.
The BJP swept away the Almora seat too where Ajay Tamta from the BJP won by 0.95 lakh votes against Pradeep Tamta from the Congress who was the sitting MP from the seat.