Dehradun: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday retained all five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand, repeating its performance in 2014. State BJP president Ajay Bhatt defeated former chief minister and Congress leader Harish Rawat by a margin of over three lakh votes in the Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar seat. Bhatt attributed the party's spectacular show countrywide to the vision and leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Celebrations were held at the state party office here with Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat describing the party's victory as the reassertion of people's faith in Modi's leadership. In Haridwar seat, former chief minister and sitting BJP MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank drubbed Ambrish Kumar of the Congress by 2,58,729 votes. BJP national secretary Tirath Singh Rawat won the Pauri (Garhwal) seat defeating Congress's Manish Khanduri, the son of his political mentor and sitting MP BC Khanduri, by 3,02,669 votes. Erstwhile Tehri royal Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah defeated Pradesh Congress president Pritam Singh by 3,00,586 votes.
BJP's Ajay Tamta defeated Congress's Pradeep Tamata by 2,32,986 votes. Bhatt defeated Rawat by 3,39,096 votes in Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar constituency to upset the calculations of the Congress which was looking to regain the lost ground after the rout of 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 assembly polls.
Bhatt, who was contesting the Lok Sabha elections for the first time against a formidable opponent, won surprisingly trouncing a veteran of many a poll battle like Rawat in Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar constituency by a margin of over three lakh votes to snuff out the Congress's last ray of hope for making a political comeback in the state.
In 2014 Lok Sabha election, which saw the BJP winning all the five lower house seats in the state riding a strong Modi wave, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari was the lone party candidate to win with a margin of 2,84,717 votes in Nainital.
The margin was much thinner in 2014 Lok Sabha poll when BJP won all the five Lok Sabha seats in the state. Former chief minister Harish Rawat and Pritam Singh had been fielded by the Congress in the hope that while the former would be capitalising on the relative inexperience of Bhatt, a Lok Sabha poll debutante, the latter might get the advantage of an alleged anti-incumbency against Shah who was seeking her third term in the Lok Sabha from the seat. However, Bhatt overcame Rawat's experiential edge over him.
Bhatt's victory is important not just because it was under his leadership that the party had swept 57 out of total 70 assembly seats in the state in 2017, but also because he was the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly when Harish Rawat was the chief minister.
Shah, the daughter-in-law of the erstwhile Tehri royal family, seems to have been helped by a loyal support base which is dedicated to the royals and respects them as demigods. Pritam Singh was hardly in a position to challenge her authority as his influence is confined to tribal pockets of the constituency. A variety of factors seem to have worked in favour of the BJP nominees who sought votes on the twin planks of nationalism and development under Narendra Modi's leadership.
Modi at his election rallies in the state had said that every vote cast in favour of BJP candidates will go directly to him and strengthen his hands. He had asked people of the state time and again to vote for the BJP if they wanted the pace of development and the projects initiated by his government like the Rs 12,000 crore all-weather roads project for 'chardham', to go on uninterrupted.
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