Uttarakhand elections: BJP drops 10 sitting MLAs in first list

Uttarakhand elections: BJP drops 10 sitting MLAs in first list

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday dropped 10 sitting MLAs and gave tickets to all 11 ministers in the first list of candidates for the assembly elections in Uttarakhand

Union minister and BJP election in-charge for Uttarakhand, Pralhad Joshi, released the list of 59 candidates at the party’s national headquarters in Delhi on Thursday. The state assembly comprises 70 seats.

Included in the first list are all high profile leaders of the state unit — chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami from Khatima, state BJP chief Madan Kaushik from Haridwar, Dhan Singh Rawat from Srinagar, Subodh Uniyal from Narendra Nagar, Ganesh Joshi from Mussoorie, Swami Yatishwaranand from Haridwar (rural), Satpal Maharaj from Chaubattkhal, Bishan Singh Chuphal from Didihat, Rekha Arya from Someshwar, Banshidhar Bhagat from Kaladhungi and Arvind Pandey from Gadarpur.

The other major names include sitting MLA Umesh Sharma Kau from Raipur constituency and Speaker Premchand Aggarwal from Rishikesh constituency only.

The sitting MLAs who were denied tickets include Rajkumar from Purola in Uttarkashi district, who has been replaced by Durgeshwar Lal who got the ticket hours after joining the party. Rajkumar had joined the BJP from Congress last year.

Similarly, Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion from Haridwar’s Khanpur constituency has been replaced by his wife Kunwarani Devyani. Champion has been in controversy on several occasions during his tenure in the government.

Daughter of former chief minister Major General BC Khanduri (retd), Ritu Khanduri was replaced by Renu Bisht from Yamkeshwar constituency in Pauri Garhwal district.

Sitting MLA Mahesh Singh Negi from Almora’s Dwarahat constituency was replaced by Anil Shahi. Negi is facing rape charges by a woman who has also alleged he is the biological father of her child . The case is sub-judice in a Dehradun local court.

Among the other major names, deputy speaker in the state assembly and MLA from Almora constituency, Raghunath Singh Chauhan was replaced by Kailash Sharma.

In the other changes, sitting MLA from Tharali in Chamoli district, Munni Devi, was replaced by Bhopal Ram Tamta, Surendra Singh Negi was replaced by Anil Nautiyal in Karnprayag constituency, Mukesh Singh Koli was replaced by Raj Kumar Pori in Pauri constituency of Pauri Garhwal district, Meena Gangola was replaced by Fakir Ram Tamta in Gangolihat constituency in Pithoragarh district and Balwant Singh Bhauryal was replaced by Suresh Garia in Kapkote constituency of Bageshwar district.

In two seats where by-elections were held after the deaths of the sitting MLAs, the party’s candidates who had won have been retained . Chandra Pant who won the Pithoragarh bypoll, after the death of her husband and sitting MLA Prakash Pant, and Mahesh Jeena, brother of deceased ex-MLA Surendra Singh Jeena, who won the Salt constituency, were both named in the first list.

In Dehradun, deceased senior MLA from Dehradun Cantonment Harbans Kapoor’s wife Savita Kapoor was given the ticket from the same seat. Kapoor had died of heart attack last year.

The party is yet to announce list of candidates on remaining 11 seats including Kedarnath in Rudraprayag district, Tehri in Tehri Garhwal district, Doiwala in Dehradun district from where sitting MLA and former CM Trivendra Singh Rawat wrote to party national president on Wednesday expressing his unwillingness to contest.

Other seats for which no candidate has been named include Kotdwar in Pauri Garhwal district from where sitting MLA and former cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat was expelled from the party few days ago, Ranikhet and Jogeshwar constituencies in Almora district while Rudrapur constituency in US Nagar district.

One of the sitting MLAs and deputy speaker of state legislative assembly Raghunath Singh Chauhan who was denied ticket this time by the party leadership while speaking on the development said he “respects party’s decision.”

“I had been a member dedicated for the party and will always remain one in the future also. Ticket distribution is the decision taken completely by the party senior leadership and I respect that. Will continue to work for the party to ensure it returns to power in 2022,” said Chauhan.

On the dropping of 10 sitting MLAs by the ruling party, political analysts say that it was a “well thought move by the leadership.”

“The move shows that the party is not taking the upcoming polls lightly and is not hesitant to take tough steps to ensure victory for the party,” said political analyst MM Semwal.

He added, “It is yet to announce candidates on remaining 11 seats on which similar changes might be witnessed. It just shows that BJP values the organisation more than the leaders.”

Earlier, while releasing the list, Union minister Joshi said the first list has five women candidates.

“It has been done on the lines of women empowerment. The first list was announced after taking approval in the party’s central election committee held in Delhi on Wednesday. The party will announce the list of remaining 11 candidates soon,” said Joshi adding, “The party under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will again return to power with a thumping majority in 2022.”

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