Senior BJP leader and former Uttarakhand Speaker Prakash Pant filed his nomination papers here on Wednesday for the upcoming State Assembly by-election from Sitarganj.
Flanked by State BJP president Bishen Singh Chufal and former Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshiary, Mr. Pant told reporters that he was a “tikau” candidate and not “bikau”.
“The electorate knows this and will definitely vote for the BJP once again as the general feeling is that the man (former BJP MLA Kiran Mandal) they elected earlier this year had cheated not only the people and party but himself also. As a ‘tikau’ candidate, I will ensure justice to the people of Sitarganj if elected,” Mr. Pant said, adding that the Congress was simply fooling them in the name of Mandal and land rights that may never be delivered.
Earlier, addressing an election rally, Mr. Koshiary said the battle of Sitarganj was one between honesty and money power.
The Leader of Opposition, Ajay Bhatt, wanted the people to ask Mr. Mandal why he had betrayed them for money.
The BJP would over the next 15 days reach out to every household in the constituency and tell the people how money power and corruption were ruling the roost under the Congress regime.
Former MP from Naini Tal Balraj Passi, former Union Minister Bachi Singh Rawat and a few local MLAs also spoke.
Former Chief Ministers B.C. Khanduri and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank were conspicuously absent indicating that the BJP may continue to remain a divided house in the run up to the polls.
Talking to media persons in Delhi, Congress candidate and Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna welcomed the contest with Mr. Pant. “We are good friends and it will be fun contesting for an entry into the Vidhan Sabha,” Mr. Bahuguna said.
He, however, took a pot-shot at Mr. Pant saying he lost by about 14,000 votes in his home ground Pithoragarh because the electorate rejected him for having failed to provide drinking water despite being the Drinking Water Supply & Parliamentary Affairs Minister.
Mr. Bahuguna blamed the policies of the erstwhile BJP regime for the power and water crisis in the State.
Meanwhile, the police searched several premises in Haridwar and Roorkee looking for Kishore Rai, a relative of Mr. Mandal, who had at a Press conference claimed to be witness to a transaction of Rs.10 crore between Mr. Mandal and some Congress leaders before he resigned from the Sitarganj seat. The Congress has described the allegation as a lie and sought an apology from the BJP for hurling baseless accusations. The BJP on the other hand said it stood by the charges and would take the matter to the people's court.