dehradun Diary CM relying more on kin to win Tehri bypoll
The political battle for the Tehri Lok Sabha
byelection in which Saket Bahuguna, son of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna,
is contesting as ruling Congress candidate, the state government as well as
Chief Minister Bahuguna has a lot at stake.
The outcome of the byelection, the one before
the 2014 general elections, will have a direct bearing on the political career of
Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna. By winning the byelection, he has to ensure a
smooth entry for his son into the state Congress politics but also at stake is
the credibility of his six-month state government.
The Chief Minister, who won the Sitarganj state
assembly byelection in July this year by a record margin to enter the state
legislature, is leaving no stone unturned in his effort to make his son win his
Knowing fully well that public sentiments are
against the ruling Congress due to reasons like high inflation, cap on LPG
cylinders and diesel price hike, scandals rocking the Union government,
lacklustre performance of his own state government, Vijay Bahuguna has been
working overtime to ensure support for his son.
In the past one week, he was able to win over
many senior party leaders. The most important entry was Matbar Singh Kandari, a
senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader who was himself a strong contender
for the partry ticket
He was annoyed from his own party men after
he was denied party nomination and Maharani Mala Raj Laxmi Shah, daughter
in-law of last maharaja of Tehri state Manvendra Shah was given the party
ticket. But, Chief Minister Bahuguna was able to convince Matbar Singh Kandari
to join the Congress. Similarly, another former BJP legislator Raj Kumar also
joined the Congress.
He has also been working on the local leaders
who left the Congress in the past and trying to bring them back. Jot Singh
Bisht, a former senior party leader who unsuccessfully fought the assembly
elections from the Dhanaulti assembly segment of Tehri district in the state,
is again back in the party.
Moreover, the entire Bahuguna family,
including Reeta Bahuguna, a former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief and sister of
Vijay Bahuguna, Shekhar Bahuguna, another brother of Vijay Bahuguna, have been
assigned different assembly segments of the Tehri Lok Sabha seat to manage the
election effectively in favour of the candidate.
This formula worked very well in the
Sitarganj assembly bypoll where Vijay Bahuguna, without taking any chances with
his own party men, relied more on his own family members for finetuning the
election management in their own favour.
But in case, the Congress fails to win the
Tehri byelection, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna will have to face many
problems. Any negative verdict will be considered a vote against the state
Congress government and personally against the Chief Minister himself since his
own son is a candidate.
On the other hand, Maharani Raj Laxmi Shah,
apart from encashing the public resentment against the ruling Congress, will
also be banking on the tremendous goodwill and support of his late
father-in-law Maharaja Manvendra Shah who represented the Tehri Lok Sabha constituency
eight times in the past.
The re-entry of Munna Singh Chauhan, a senior
politician from Chakrata and his wife Madhu Chauhan, chairperson of the Zila
Panchayat, Dehradun district, into the BJP will also help the BJP candidate.
Interestingly, the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal
(Panwar), which is an ally of the state Congress government, has also entered
the fray. Trivendra Singh Panwar, president of the UKD (P), has filed his
Lone legislator of the UKD (P) Preetam Singh
Panwar is a minister in the Bahuguna cabinet and his position will be awkward
during the electioneering process. While supporting his own party president, he
has to criticise the Congress government in which he himself is a part.
The Congress also got a shot in the arm when
Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna managed to convince the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)
supremo Mayawati to refrain from contesting the Tehri byelection. The BSP is
also an ally of the Congress in the state government. In a close contest, the
absence of the BSP, which has a sizeable vote bank in the Tehri Lok Sabha seat,
could prove beneficial for the ruling Congress.