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Uttarakhand election results 2017: Despite rebels, BJP wave takes state, gives space for CM experiment

With 57 or over 80 per cent of the total 70 seats, this is, perhaps, one of the most comprehensive victories for the BJP in any state ever.

Written by Ashutosh Bhardwaj | Dehradun |
Updated: March 12, 2017 10:16:43 am
Uttarakhand election results 2017, ,Uttarakhand elections 2017, BJP, Uttarakhand polls, BJP Uttarakhand, narendra modi, PM modi, uttarakhand congress, congress, harish rawat, india news, indian express news, elections updates Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI/File photo)

On the surface, just like in UP, it’s a BJP victory in Uttarakhand but, in reality, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won Uttarakhand for the BJP, pushing the Congress to its worst ever low in the state that used to be among its last bastions. With 57 or over 80 per cent of the total 70 seats, this is, perhaps, one of the most comprehensive victories for the BJP in any state ever.

Read | Uttarakhand election results 2017: Harish Rawat loses seats, state and the plot

Yet, there is a subtext. Despite incumbency and its ranks getting depleted due to mass defection, the Congress’s vote share has not declined. It was 33.79 per cent in 2012, this year it has got 33.5 per cent but its seats fell by one-third, from 32 to 11. Reason: BJP’s vote increased from 33.13 to 46.5 per cent, as the party snatched the pie of Independents, BSP and regional parties, who were earlier the kingmakers.

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In that sense, with over a third of the vote share, Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who lost both his seats, and his deputy PCC chief Kishore Upadhyaya, another loser, may take some comfort but the writing on the wall today was clear: they had no counter to the charisma and promise of Modi. “I accept double defeat. I lost both seats, and the state,” said Rawat after he submitted his resignation to Governor K K Paul.

As the results emerged in Uttarakhand, the victory chant across the state was “Modi, Modi, Modi.” It was an early Holi for them as they played with colours and Garhwali women danced on “Badri Ki Dulhaniya”. It was easy to identify who this Badri (local deity Badrinath) was — Narendra Modi. Some called him an “avatar of Shiva”, invoking another deity Kedarnath.

The state was adversely impacted by demonetisation, people were annoyed with the BJP for giving tickets to Congress rebels. Over a dozen CM probables further intensified the BJP’s chaos. But it placed its best face (read Modi) to lead it and voters opted for the Modi Sarkar.

There were apprehensions in sections of the BJP that victory of Congress rebels could create a centre of perennial intrigue within. They have won but their clout stands diminished. Congress rebels like Satpal Maharaj and Vijay Bahuguna had become the face of the BJP’s campaign leaving many loyal cadres annoyed. It is obvious what space these rebels would now have in the party.

Read | Uttarakhand election results 2017: Reality check for Independent candidates, regional parties

As BSP chief Mayawati made allegations about the EVMs in UP, Upadhyaya echoed them here. “When we can repair and modify the parts of Mangalyaan and space stations from the earth, it can be done here (with EVMs too,” he said. “I have received many calls in this regard (fudged EVMs). It would be proper for Narendra Modiji to get it verified.” The Congress is holding a “detailed” press conference on the issue tomorrow.

With the last two elections (2007 and 2012) failing to produce a majority government, and the 2002 poll resulting in a wafer-thin majority of 36, the state has seen unstable governments with eight CMs in 16 years. This firm verdict evokes strong hopes and expectations of people, and it would now be a test for Modi how he meets his “Vikas” promises made.

Among them is the all-weather char dhaam road and a rail link to Karnaprayag, a town high up in the hills. Both these projects — their environmental , though it is not clear how they would be executed without compromising with environment, have the potential to fundamentally alter the state, its economy and society.

The victory has also cemented the stature of Modi and his deputy Amit Shah. They now have enormous space to choose the next Chief Minister, as it is being believed that the next boss could be a new face altogether, or someone who was talked about little. Speaking to The Indian Express, Party’s state in-charge Shyam Jaju did not deny the possibility of choosing even a “non-MLA” leader as the CM. “The new CM will be a BJP member, that’s all,” he said.

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