When it releases its candidates for Uttarakhand, the BJP faces the challenge of doing a balancing act between accommodating nine MLAs it has inducted from the Congress and avoiding upsetting long-time hopefuls. A look at the equations in the nine seats the nine inductees represent:
Vijay Bahuguna: The former CM had defeated Prakash Pant in a bypoll in Sitarganj. In the general elections, Pant had lost from Pithoragarh. “I am making preparations to contest from Pithoragarh again. I will not contest from Sitarganj. Bahuguna’s younger son is likely to get that ticket,” Pant said.
Harak Singh Rawat: He defeated an influential BJP leader, Matbaar Singh Kandari, in Rudraprayag. Kandari claimed his ticket was safe because Harak Singh was looking for a ticket elsewhere.
Amrita Rawat: She had won on a Congress ticket from Ram Nagar, where her then BJP rival, Diwan Singh Bist, hopes to be renominated. “I have told the leadership that the ticket should be given to me because I belong to the party cadre.” But if the party decides to give Amrita the ticket, he said he will accept the decision.
Subodh Uniyal: He had won Narendra Nagar against the BJP’s Om Gopal Rawat; both have now demanded the BJP ticket, said the BJP’s Tehri district president Sanjay Negi. “As the local party organisation, we will work for whichever one gets the ticket,” Negi said.
Pradeep Batra: He had won Roorkee against the BJP’s Suresh Chandra Jain, who said he and Batra both have demanded the ticket. Batra was sure he would be fielded.
Umesh Sharma: In Raipur, he had defeated former BJP national secretary Trivendra Singh Rawat. A BJP leader felt the BJP might accommodate Rawat elewhere.
Shaila Rani Rawat: She had defeated Asha Nautiyal in Kedarnath. Nautiyal has been in the BJP since 1990 and held senior posts. In 2013, she had made allegations against Shalia Rani over distribution of relief following the Kedarnath disaster.
Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion: He had defeated the BJP’s Ravinder Singh in Khanpur. BJP insiders said so far, only Champion has sought the ticket.
Shailendra Mohan Singhal: The BJP rival he had defeated in Jaspur, Adesh Kumar Chauhan, has since joined the Congress. Singhal is widely expected to get the BJP ticket.
BJP state spokesperson Vinay Goyal said the BJP considers the MLAs who have come from the Congress at par with its old MLAs. “Those who had lost the elections in 2012 had got their chance from the BJP. But those who are sitting MLAs are stronger claimants. Also, the BJP election should not be contested for fulfilling the wishes of individuals but for meeting the expectations of the masses,” Goyal said.
For those denied the tickets, Goyal said, “honourable adjustments” will be made when “the BJP forms the government with an absolute majority”.