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 first election.
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 

from Tehri.

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 nomination.
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.
 —SMA Kazmi 

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