Ajay Bhatt (BJP) vs Harish Rawat (Congress)
In Uttarakhand, it is common for the ruling party in the state to lose in the Lok Sabha polls, but if we go by News Nation exit poll results, it will be a clean sweep for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) this time. In 2004, the Congress had ND Tiwari government in the state, but the BJP occupied the Lok Sabha seats. In 2009, history repeated itself as the BJP government was in power in the state, but the Congress swept cleanly in the Lok Sabha election. It was the same in 2014 also as the Congress was in power in the state but the BJP managed a clean sweep in the Lok Sabha election. However, it will be interesting to see if history will repeat itself again on May 23, when the Election Commission will declare the results of the Lok Sabha polls 2019.
Uttarakhand: Key contests
Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar (2014 Result: BJP, Winner: Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Margin: 2,84,717) 2019 candidates: Ajay Bhatt (BJP) Vs Harish Rawat (Congress)
BJP's Uttarakhand state president Ajay Bhatt is facing Harish Rawat, former chief minister, in Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar. In 2014, BJP's senior leader Bhagat Singh Koshyari defeated Congress candidate KC Singh Baba by a massive margin of 2,84,717 votes. Baba won the seat for the Congress party in 2009 after the delimitation process. Earlier, the seat was known as Nainital only and the BJP won it twice in 1991 and 1998. Narayan Dutt Tiwari represented the seat in 1980, 1996 and 1999. Krishna Chandra Pant also represented the seat thrice in 1962, 1967 and 1971. In 1998, Pant's wife Ila Pant defeated Tiwari on a BJP ticket.
Haridwar (2014 Result: BJP, Winner: Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Margin: 1,77,822) 2019 candidates: Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (BJP) Vs Ambarish Kumar (Congress)
Former Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank won the Haridwar seat in 2014 and defeated Harish Rawat's wife Renuka Rawat by a margin of 1,77,822 votes. Nishank is seeking a second term from the seat. The BJP won the seat five times in 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1999. The party won the seat again in 2014 after a gap of 10 years. BJP's Harpal Singh Sathi represented the seat thrice whereas Congress leader Harish Rawat also represented the seat once in 2009.
Garhwal (2014 Result: BJP, Winner: Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, Margin: 1,84,526) 2019 candidates: Tirath Singh Rawat (BJP) Vs Manish Khanduri (Congress)
BJP's senior leader and former chief minister Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri won the Garhwal Lok Sabha constituency for the fifth time n 2014 defeating Congress party's Harak Singh Rawat by 1,84,526 votes. Khanduri represented the seat in 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2004 earlier. Satpal Maharaj also represented the seat in 1996 and 2009. The BJP has decided to give its ticket to Tirath Singh Rawat this time from the seat, whereas the Congress pulled up a surprise when it chose Khanduri's son Manish Khanduri to contest the elections.
Tehri-Garhwal (2014 Result: BJP, Winner: Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Margin: 2,80,00) 2019 candidates: Pritam Singh (Congress) vs Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah (BJP)
Manabendra Shah from BJP had won the 1999 elections when Tehri Garhwal was a part of Uttar Pradesh. He was elected again in 2004. Congress candidate Vijay Bahuguna was elected MP in 2009. BJP’s Bhagat Singh Koshyari won the elections in the 2014 General Elections. This election, Tehri will witness a tough battle for Congress’s Pritam Singh who will be up against BJP’s Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah. Singh is credited with winning the Chakrata seat despite his party faring poorly in the last assembly election. Though a sitting MP from the Tehri royal family which has a strong political hold in the constituency, Shah faces the challenge of overcoming an anti-incumbency factor and taking on a strong opponent in Singh.
Ajay Bhatt: Bhatt is not only the state BJP president, but a former MLA from Ranikhet who was the Leader of Opposition in the assembly when Harish Rawat was chief minister. Bhatt had also lost his seat in the last assembly polls. Bhatt is struggling to regain lost ground in the polls as they had lost the seats they had contested in the state Assembly elections held in 2017. Bhatt had lost from Ranikhet. Bhatt is primarily banking on the Modi government's achievements during the last five years to score over his rival.
Harish Rawat: Though Rawat had lost both the seats he had contested in the last assembly polls, he continues to be a seasoned and the most prominent Congress leader in the state, enjoying a connect with people at the grassroots. Given Rawat's political stature, the odds appear stacked against Bhatt who is a newcomer in comparison. For Bhatt, and the Narendra Modi factor may come to his rescue, poll watchers here feel. Rawat, who decided to contest from Nainital in the last minute, is left no stone unturned to shore up his chances holding nearly half a dozen public meetings and rallies in a day to drum up support for himself. Rawat highlighted public welfare measures taken during his tenure as the CM and promising to give active representation to people by raising state specific issues in Parliament.