BJP giving tickets to turncoats like of ND Tiwari shows how important candidate profiles are

When 91-year old Narayan Dutt Tiwari walked into Amit Shah's residence on Akbar Road in New Delhi on Wednesday morning to switch over his loyalties from Congress to BJP, he created a picture-perfect situation, albeit of a different kind, for his new political destination — barring serving Chief Minister Harish Rawat, all former chief ministers of the state are now in challenger BJP ranks.

Since its inception in November 2000, Uttarakhand has seen seven chief ministers — Nityanand Swami, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, ND Tiwari, BC Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Vijay Bahuguna and Harish Rawat. Of these seven chief ministers, present and past, four have been from BJP and three from Congress. But with Vijay Bahuguna and ND Tiwari severing their ties from Congress and joining BJP, an interesting situation has arisen.

File photo of ND Tiwari. Reuters.

File photo of ND Tiwari. Reuters.

A veteran ND Tiwari has the unique distinction of being chief minister of two states — thrice of undivided Uttar Pradesh and once of Uttarakhand. He was the last chief minister from Congress party in UP and was ousted from there on advent of Mulayam Singh Yadav as Samajwadi strongman in the state. However, he never served full five year term in UP and got this privilege in Uttrakhand where he remained chief minister for full five year term of the assembly from March 2002-March 2007. Onset of 2017 assembly elections in Uttarakhand it was his belated affection for son, Rohit Shekhar who fought and won a prolonged legal battle to prove Tiwari's paternity to him. Tiwari has lived political his life king size, as chief minister, as union minister, as Governor and as one of the most prominent Brahmin leader in the country. A substantive section of people in hilly regions and plains of Uttrakhand have soft corner for Tiwari, with or without the generous colours he had in his personal life.

Another interesting feature in photo gallery of all ex-chief ministers of the state is that all prominent Brahmin faces in the state are now with the BJP, besides party's very own Brahmin faces. Another Brahmin leader who strike an emotional cord with people in the hilly state was Hemwanti Nandan Bahuguna. His son Vijay Bahuguna, a former High Court Judge who was once picked up by Rahul Gandhi to be chief minister of the state. Vijay Bahuguna's sister Rita Bahuguna Joshi too has switched her loyalty from BJP to Congress. BC Khanduri and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank too are Brahmins.

Likes of Tiwaris, Bahugunas, Rawats, Aryra and so on who have lately deserted Congress to join BJP has created a piquant situation in the state — where some are sarcastically calling BJP as "Modi's Congress". Around 20 former Congressmen and women have got BJP ticket for 15 Feb 70-seat Uttarakhand Assembly election.

This has its own consequences in the BJP rank and file in the state. Denial of party tickets to hard-boiled BJP workers has brought internal dissensions and at some places rebellion of the cadre. Second, there is a feeling among BJP leaders from the state that given a situation where the party wins, which they expect to win if all goes well till date of polling, then there could a situation where a sub-group of erstwhile Congress leaders is created in the BJP. Over-riding personal ambitions of these leaders in a small assembly like Uttarakhand could have its own fallout.

The BJP leadership, however, believes that in a small state like Uttarakhand, which have smaller constituencies in terms of number of electorate, what matters most is the personal profile of the candidate. That's why BJP has given tickets to so many turncoats. The party leaders hope that their gamble would pay off. That's why the party has decided not to project any individual leader as their chief ministerial candidate. In case the party emerges victorious, the leadership will have a problem in naming the chief minister.

Satpal Maharaj, though a Rajput but a prominent spiritual-political leader who joined BJP from Congress ahead of 2014 parliamentary elections will be a prominent contender. But there are at least three major contenders for the position, Ajay Bhatt, Anil Baluni, Trivendra Singh Rawat. All three ex-chief ministers from BJP's own rank, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Ramesh Pokhriyal and BC Khanduri are Lok Sabha MPs from the state.

Published Date: Jan 18, 2017 17:24 PM | Updated Date: Jan 18, 2017 17:24 PM

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