Uttarakhand Election 2017: The key men and women who could determine poll outcome
Here are the key players in the Uttarakhand race
The hill state of Uttarakhand, which was largely in the news for last year's Constitutional crisis and ensuing President's Rule that was subsequently quashed, goes to polls on 15 February. The state is important for both Congress and BJP. While Congress hopes to retain power in the state, BJP has made consistent efforts in the state to rock the boat.
The key parties in the state are Congress and BJP; although the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) have a minor presence in the state, it's negligible and isn't expected to make a difference to the two big parties' prospects. The Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) takes credit for the formation of the state, but it doesn't particularly have a connect with the voter-base.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Kashi Singh Airy, UKD patron said, "We (UKD) were the ones who played an important role in the formation of Uttarakhand and we alone can nurture it properly."
Here are all the key players in Uttarakhand:
Harish Rawat, Congress
Harish Chandra Singh Rawat is the incumbent chief minister of Uttarakhand. He has been a five-time Member of Parliament. He hails from Mohanari village near Chaunalia in Almora district. Rawat got his degrees in Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Law from Lucknow University. He started his political career by joining politics at the village level. He was inclined towards the Congress' ideology right from the outset and was a member of Youth Congress and a trade union leader for several years before joining the party ranks. In 2016, the BJP-led central government made a failed attempt at dislodging the Rawat-led government in Uttarakhand by citing constitutional breakdown in the state. The Supreme Court held that the imposition of President's Rule in Uttarakhand was invalid and paved the way for restoration of Rawat's government in the state.
Vijay Bahuguna, BJP
He served as Uttarakhand chief minister in 2012, drawing significant ire from Rawat. He subsequently resigned following severe criticism that he received for his handling of the 2012 floods in the state. He recently rebelled from the Congress and joined hands with the BJP, and has been inducted in to the saffron party's national executive. Bahuguna is a former high court judge and son of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna. He is also a cousin of BC Khanduri, another former Uttarakhand chief minister.
Khanduri served as the chief minister of Uttarakhand twice (2007-2009 and 2011-2012). He also served a Cabinet minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government at the Centre and gave shape to the 'Golden Quadrilateral Project'. During his tenure as chief minister of Uttarakhand, Khanduri cut down expenses by reducing security for himself and other administrative officials and restricted the use of chief minister's discretionary funds.
Bhagat Singh Koshyari
Koshyari began his career with the RSS. In 1997, he became the member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council. In 2000, Koshyari was appointed the minister of irrigation, law, energy and legislative affairs of the newly developed state of Uttarakhand. In 2001, Bhagat replaced Nityanand Swami and became the chief minister of the state.
Hridayesh is popularly referred to as the iron lady, and is a Congress stalwart. She began her career under ND Tiwari, who mentored her in the early 70s. She has massive clout in the Haldwani Assembly segment and she won the 2012 election with a record margin.
Maharaj was appointed as vice-chairman of the 20-point implementation programme during the 2002-2007 ND Tiwari regime. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009. He is credited with reforms in Uttarakhand.
Bhatt is a senior BJP member and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly. He was recently elected unopposed as chief of the party's state unit for the 2017 polls. Bhatt was elected unopposed as all three sets of nomination papers. Bhatt has also served as health minister of Uttarakhand. He said he would aim for victory in the 2017 Assembly elections by working together with all the party members.
ND Tiwari and Rohit Shekhar
In the first ever post-Independence Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh in 1952, ND Tiwari was elected from Nainital constituency and became an MLA for the first time on a Praja Samajwadi Party ticket. In 1957, he was elected from the Nainital constituency, and became leader of Opposition in the Assembly. In January 2017, he, along with son Rohit Shekhar, joined the BJP.
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