'Peaceful' polling concludes in Uttarakhand
Uttarkashi takes the lead in voter turnout
Uttarakhand registered 68 percent polling by 5 o'clock in the evening on Wednesday. Among the regions of the state, Uttarkashi has taken the lead in people's participation, with over 73 percent of its electorate registering their votes.
US Nagar, Haridwar and Nainital stood second, with 70 percent turnout each, while Dehradun saw 67 percent, Rudraprayag saw 63 percent, and Pithoragarh, Pauri and Tehri saw 60 percent polling each. Bageshwar, Champawat and Almora registered 62 percent voting, while Chamoli saw 61 percent turnout.
Second part of the interview with Satish Balodi, author, poet and writer of books from Uttarakhand
Here's an interview with Satish Balodi, author, poet and writer of books from Uttarakhand
Congress party offices wear a deserted look
On polling day in Dehradun, the Congress party's state office on Rajpur Road wore a deserted look. Only a few party workers were present there. Some were unhappy with Team PK (Prashant Kishore, Congress party’s election strategist), which continues to manages the party's campaign in Uttarakhand. Team PK is functioning from a different place in the city, and Congress workers have complained that there is little coordination between the state office and Team PK on polling day.
"The team should have preferred its base on the party office premises,” said a worker on condition of anonymity. According to him, workers have little role to play on the polling day in the party office. Chambers of party functionaries were also vacant on polling day.
Polls could script a new chapter
Driving through Haridwar to Dehradun one gets the feeling that election here is keenly contested. This is one of the few region where the grand electorate festival called election can be sensed through presence of big banners and hoardings. Plain to hill presents its own story. There have always been a divide between plain and hills in state of Uttrakhand and a latent tension between the residents and leaders of two regions have always been there.
In this incumbent chief minister Harish Rawat decided not to contest election from any of the hill region constituency and chose to create history by becoming first political leader of significance to contest from two constituencies. That too, both from plain - Kichcha in Terai region and from Hardwar (rural). Its important to note that when he had become chief minister he had got a seat vacated to contest from other extreme of hill region, Pithoragarh, a place closer to China border than Dehradun.
Out of a total of 70 seats in Uttrakhand assembly 30 seats of Uttrakhand assembly are from plain regions - Udham Singh Nagar 9, Hardwar 11 and Dehradun 10.
In last 2012 assembly election the BJP had done better in plain and Congress had done better in hills. Today's polls could script a new chapter.
Problem of plenty
Uttarakhand polls present an interesting situation where the incumbent chief minister Harish Rawat is on one side, the Congress and all six former chief ministers Nityanand Swami, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, ND Tiwari, BC Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Vijay Bahuguna are on BJP's side.
Interestingly of all these names, present and ex only Harish Rawat is contesting assembly election. But then there is a history in Uttrakhand that chief minister has been imposed from above, a person who did not contest assembly election to begin with.
The two ex-Congress chief ministers ND Tiwari and Vijay Bahuguna to the BJP mean the party now has a good mix of prominent Brahmin and Rajpur faces. Bramin and Rajput are the two castes which matter most in hills.
On surface of it the BJP has an advantage in caste combination, presence of good number of prominent leaders and on such other things that could impact voter preferences but if it comes to power the party leadership will have a tough time in choosing its leader in the state.
Firstpost speaks to Rajni Rawat
Rajni Rawat is a transgender candidate fighting election in Uttarakhand.
Firstpost in conversation with Rajkumar, a Congress candidate from Rajpur seat and a sitting MLA
Scuffle in Purola
In the Purola constituency, BJP and Congress supporters got into a fight in Gudiyad village.
Security, job creation main concerns for voters
People in Dehradun have reacted to elections in the hill state with great enthusiasm. After casting their votes, at Booth No 461 in Dehradun's Dharampur seat, voters said they wanted their elected representatives to focus on development and security.
Usha Thapliyal expects women's security in the state to be the focus of the new government. On the other hand, Pushpa Negi, a school teacher, says she voted for better infrastructure and more job creation. Virendra Chandra Gairola, a retired registrar of the Medical Council of India, expressed concerns over national security but said he admires Prime Minister Narendra Modi for conducting surgical strikes in September. Gairola also praises former chief minister of Uttarakhand BC Khanduri, saying the BJP leader has a clean image.
However, retired government employee Arun Thapliyal wants a new face as chief minister.
Uttarakhand elections: Six illiterate candidates, 40 percent undergraduates
According to a report in The Times of India, six candidates contesting elections in Uttarakhand are illiterate, while 40 percent of all contestants have admitted to have not completed Class XII. This is particularly relevant since neighbouring state of Haryana had recently passed a law mandating only those with a "minimum qualification" will be eligible to contest Panchayat polls.
Satpal Maharaj at a polling booth
Elderly voters in Uttarakhand enthusiastically casting their vote
Modi: The electoral face of BJP in Uttarakhand
The BJP has made Modi as its electoral face in Uttarakhand.
Congress too has played a gamble by making Harish Rawat its face of elections. Congress's chances are hinged upon Rawat. However, people are not happy with both the parties.
The rebel candidates of Congress are in a dire situation while BJP is also not in a comfortable situation. There is a high possibility of reversals in electoral fortunes.
Polling percentages till 11 am: At a glance
Haridwar - 29 percent
Tehri - 22 percent
Dehradun - 23 percent
Saharanpur - 30 percent
Almora - 24 percent
14 percent voter turnout
Till about 10 am on Wednesday, a 14 percent voter turnout was recorded.
In Dehradun, shanties situated within 200 metres of Nehru Colony's election centre were demolished. Shops within the radius of 200 metres were also shut down.
Polling percentages till 10 am: A quick glance
Laksar - 22 percent
Bhagwanpur - 14 percent
Pauri - 5.69 percent
Almora - 6.5 percent
Chamoli - 5.35 percent
Purola - 6.55 percent
Raipur - 5 percent
Sahaspur - 7.5 percent
Rishikesh - 5 percent
Mussoorie - 7 percent
Cantt - 7 percent
Nainital - 7.71 percent
Haridwar - 8.91 percent
Tehri - 6 percent
Doiwala - 5 percent
Peaceful voting reported in all seats
Peaceful voting is reported from all the 69 seats in Uttarakhand and voting percent is reaching up to 15 percent in most of the seats.
Senior BJP leader and former CM Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Pranav Pandaya from Haridwar Shanti Kunj, have voted in Uttarakhand appealed people to come out and cast their vote.
Vote percentage expected to increase
Vote percentage expected to increase this time in 10 seats of Dehradun district. In 2012 it was 67.16 percent.
Election Representatives of 5 countries are in state to see the polling process. Delegation includes 13 members from Russia, Egypt, Namibia, Krygyzstan and Bangadesh.
BJP has given ticket to 13 former congress leaders including Former minister Yashpal Arya and his son.
Plain areas of Uttarakhand comprises of Haridwar District with 11 assembly seats, Dehradun with 10 seats, UdhamsinghNagar with 9 seats and Nainital District with 6 seats.
Total 36 out of 70 seats in these 4 districts. Nine hill districts contain 34 seats
Long queues, 14 percent voter turn out till 10 am
Outside a polling booth at Mahuwallah, a Muslim dominated area in Dehradun, there are long queues.
14 percent polling percentage till 10 am.
Harak Singh Rawat won by a narrow margin last time
Interestingly, the man who played a key role in instigating the crisis, Harak Singh Rawat, had himself won from Rudraprayag constituency by a margin of just 1,326 votes. In fact, in 2007 and 2002 too, the BJP and Congress only managed to barely cross the half way mark.
Narrow margin of victories in Uttarakhand
The phenomena of narrow margin of victories is significant in the case of Uttarakhand: the 2012 election results had resulted in a hung Assembly. While the Congress won by 32 seats, arch rival BJP registered victories in 31 seats.
If just four or five seats had gone in favour of either parties, one may have not witnessed the political instability that the state faced in early months of 2016.
Congress-BJP locked in straight contests on most seats
On most of the seats ruling Congress and BJP are locked in straight contests but rebel candidates of both parties who have entered the fray as independents may play a crucial role in upsetting the calculations of the official nominees of their respective parties.
12 former Congress MLAs contesting as BJP candidates and two former BJP MLAs travelling in Congress boat have made these elections interesting. Chief Minister Harish Rawat who is seeking a second stint in office is contesting from two seats, Haridwar (rural) and Kichha in Udhamsingh Nagar district.
BJP heavyweight Satpal Maharaj is contesting from Chaubatakhal whereas Uttarakhand BJP president Ajay Bhatt is battling it out in Ranikhet.
Making corruption its main poll plank BJP has asked people to vote for change whereas Congress is seeking a second term in power to carry out unfinished development work.
Women queue up
Women queued up in large numbers to cast their vote. The poll rate increasing, the first one hour shows up to 10 percent voter turn out across the state.
Indira Hridyesh casts vote
Cabinet minister and Congress candidate from Haldwani, Indira Hridyesh has cast her vote with her family in Haldwani.
Ramesh Pokhriyal casts vote
Uttarakhand's former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal with his daughter Aarushi voted at the Hathi Badkala polling station.
6 percent voter turnout in Uttarakhand till 9 am
A six percent voter turn out was recorded in the first hour of the polling. Namita Singh, Firstpost correspondent from Uttarakhand reports that in Haridwar and Chamoli districts it is 5 percent and in Champawat it is 6 percent.
There are reports of boycotting the election in the Uttarkashi district.
Special Police Observer appointed for Chakrata constituency of Dehradun District
For the first time, a Special Police Observer has been appointed for the Chakrata constituency of Dehradun District.
Rebels key to the formation of government in the state from both parties, Congress and BJP are giving a tough time to the official party candidates in over two dozen seats.
No single issue dominates in the Uttarakhand election
Land, forests, water, education, employment, migration and disasters are not dominant issues in this election.
Both parties — BJP and Congress — presented their manifestos and other parties set forth their opinions on issues of the state but could not find any resonance with the people. Leaders of both the parties questioned the permanent capital issue again. More than a dozen members of Congress and a large number of his supporters to into the party and dedicated leaders and sitting BJP MLAs showed massive resentment in being denied tickets.
There is discontentment with demonetisation, President's Rule in the state last year seem to be the more pertinent issues. According to the trends, BJP and the Congress will not have an absolute majority.
Scenes at the polling stations
Polling agents of political parties have set their benches and chairs near the polling booths. Its clear sunny sky in Dehradun. Weather is 20-25 degree Celsius.
Electoral Officers are in. In some areas, few people are reported to be seen in the small queue, mostly men.
Polling booths have been decorated with balloons and charts made by school children in Rishikesh, appealing people to vote, for the first time. The Election Commission and the education department joined hands for this unique initiative.
Total number of voters: 75,12,559. Almost 46 percent are youth. 97,000 service voters.
With 51 candidates pulling out of the fray on deadline day for withdrawal of nominations, the chessboard for the 15 February Assembly polls in Uttarakhand is laid out, where the ruling Congress and opposition BJP appear to be locked in a straight contest in the 70-seat Assembly.
Congress and BJP, the two poles between whom power has oscillated since the state's creation in 2000, are once again poised to take on each other in a straight fight in most seats, with a couple of exceptions like Haridwar and Udhamsingh Nagar, districts where BSP could be a strong player. Miffed over denial of tickets by their respective parties, quite a few strong leaders from both sides have thrown their hats into the ring as independents, making the contest interesting in nearly 18 seats.
While 11 former Congress MLAs are in the fray this time as BJP nominees, Congress has also fielded three former BJP MLAs. A further three former BJP MLAs are contesting as independents. Both parties enjoy statewide support, and have fielded candidates from all 70 seats. However, Congress has decided to back independent candidate Pritam Singh Panwar from Dhanaulti after fielding Manmohan Mall as the party's official nominee from the seat where he continues to be in the fray.
BJP has also expelled 18 rebels, after they refused to withdraw in favour of party's official nominees, while the number of Congress rebels expelled by the party for defiance is 24. The presence of rebel candidates in the fray may make the fight in at least one-and-a-half dozen seats interesting, as they have the potential to become part of the main contest or dent the votes of the party they have broken with and influence the results.
A total of 12 sitting MLAs who had won on a Congress ticket in the 2012 Assembly polls joined BJP since the start of the political crisis in Uttarakhand in March last year. Almost all of these have been fielded by BJP except Vijay Bahuguna whose son Saurabh has been fielded from his father's seat Sitarganj. People will definitely watch out for what happens in these seats as well as Haridwar rural and Kichcha Beng contested by chief minister Harish Rawat.
Updated Date: Feb 15, 2017 18:52 PM
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