<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Scoring low on party loyalties, elections in the state of Uttarakhand are a tough challenge to predict in anyone’s favour -the ruling Congress or the winner of 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP. Both the key parties are facing challenge from dissidents who have chosen to fight elections as independents.In Rishikesh that opens gateway to the Himalayas, the incumbent BJP is in a triangular fight. The two time BJP MLA, Premchand Agarwal, is up against dissident, Sandeep Gupta. Angry for being side stepped despite being promised a ticket, Gupta decided to fight as an independent.The struggle between the two traders in this Brahmin and Baniya dominated town has given hope to Rajpal Khairola, a native Brahmin candidate from Congress. In 2012 elections, Khairola had polled 21,819 votes against Agarwal who had got 29,090 votes.”BJP would have been a clear winner had there been a straight fight. Now a vote share of 8,000 plus in favour of Gupta can put Agarwal in trouble who is already facing anti-incumbency for not doing enough. In such scenario, Khairola who doesn’t enjoy wide acceptance can emerge as the dark horse,” says Virendra Sharma, a keen observer of Uttarakhand politics.Besides, having advantage of being a native, Kharola has worked hard to get land rights to the displaced of Tehri and enjoys support in 15 villages. Resignation by two former BJP’s district Presidents – Jyoti Sajwan and Gobind Agarwal has infused hope in Congress camp that also has support of the Left parties.In Narendra Nagar, the next stop enroute Tehri Garhwal, dissensions in both Congress and BJP has muddied the situation. Here, the sitting Congress MLA, Subodh Uniyal is fighting on BJP ticket. His main adversary is last time’s runner up from BJP, Om Gopal Rawat. Angry for being denied ticket and replaced by Uniyal, a Congress renegade, Rawat has chosen to fight as an independent.Aware of the internal conflict, Congress is tacitly supporting Rawat and to aid him has put up a weak candidate in Himanshu Bijalwan. The UKD has fielded Sardar Singh Pundhir who has been fighting elections as an independent since 2002. Pundhir’s ability to garner 3500 plus votes can prove to be a decisive factor as fight on this seat has always been very close.In 2007, Om Gopal, fighting as a UKD nominee, had defeated Uniyal by a wafer thin margin of 4 votes, while in 2012, Uniyal had defeated Om Gopal, who had shifted loyalty to BJP, by a margin of 401 votes.A little further up, in Tehri, the BJP is trying best to win its first election. It has lined up two back to back rallies of Amit Shah and Smriti Irani in Tehri on February 9 and 12 and embellished in between by rallies of Satpal Maharaj and Vijay Bahuguna.Dumping its candidates who had lost elections earlier, the BJP has fielded a new face in Dhan Singh Negi, who took on tourism minister, also his rival candidate, Dinesh Dhanai, alleging corruption charges.Winner as an independent candidate in 2012, Dhanai had joined Congress government. But unsure of Congress win, Dhanai is fighting as an independent.Unsure of a clear win, BJP has infused Modi propaganda in its campaign on every seat. Jeeps employed for campaign have posters of BJP candidates but play Modi’s hit speeches on corruption – “Na Khaunga Na Khane Dunga.”To counter Modi impact, Harish Rawat has lately promised Unemployment Card that will provide Rs 2500 per month to educated unemployed youth until he or she gets a job. The public of Uttarakhand indeed has a difficult task ahead to choose.

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Uttarakhand Elections 2017: Dissidents versus Parties make polls anybody’s game in state