Uttarakhand Congress Receives Stunning Blow

The spectacular win of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Tehri by-election has put the Vijay Bahuguna Government in a difficult position. The BJP candidate Maharani Mala Rajlakshmi Shah delivered a stunning blow to the Congress, defeating Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son, Saket Bahuguna by a massive margin of 22,694 votes in a direct clash. There were 14 candidates who contested this election. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not put up their own candidates in the election but extended support to the Congress candidate. In spite of this, the Tehri Maharani Rajlakshmi registered a spectacular win and dented the Mission 2014 plans of the Congress party. The Tehri Lok Sabha seat came under the ‘possession’ of the Tehri royal family 8 times after Independence. The Late Manabendra Shah of the royal family was elected to this seat, but after his demise, Vijay Bahuguna of the Congress snatched this seat from the Tehri Royal family.
In this long drawn out political battle, this time the BJP once again made Maharani Mala Rajlakshmi of the Tehri royal family their candidate, whereas the Congress tested the waters by making Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saket Bahuguna their candidate. The lack of enthusiasm amongst voters — less than 45 per cent voted — cracked the powerful domination of the Congress in Tehri and created history anew. It is worth mentioning that in the previous general election, the public had ensured that all five seats went to the Congress and thus eroded the dominance of the BJP. But now the public, fed up with increasing inflation and corruption ensured a defeat for the Congress in this by-election. In addition, by giving the Tehri seat to the BJP again in this by-election the public has clearly indicated that respect for the Tehri royal family is still a very strong factor. The late Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna’s son. Vijay Bahuguna, who is currently the Chief Minister, had taken the decision of giving the electoral ticket for the recently concluded by-election to his son Saket Bahuguna. The public has indicated that they didn’t appreciate this decision.

With the defeat of Saket Bahuguna in the Tehri by-election, Congress strategists from Uttarakhand to 10 Janpath have suffered a shock. It has become evident that unless the Central and the State Governments provide relief to the people with an emphasis on social welfare on an urgent basis, Mission 2014 of the Congress will face a lot of difficulties.

With the defeat of Saket Bahuguna in the Tehri by-election, Congress strategists from Uttarakhand to 10 Janpath have suffered a shock. It has become evident that unless the Central and the State Governments provide relief to the people with an emphasis on social welfare on an urgent basis, Mission 2014 of the Congress will face a lot of difficulties.
The arrogant attitude of Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna was also amongst the reason for his son’s defeat. His misuse of words in calling the BJP candidate Maharani Mala Rajlakshmi ‘an old ambassador car’ was quite exasperating for the public and this changed the potential winning position of Saket Bahuguna into a losing position. In the Sitarganj election, Vijay Bahuguna, in an effort to attract Bengali votes had stated that he was of Bengali origin, and this proved to be very costly for him. The Brahmins of the Himalayas, who considered the late Hemvati Bahuguna an ideal leader, parted ways from Saket due in large measure to Vijay Bahuguna.
The people of Tehri endorsed once again the strategies of Retired Major General Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, a veteran leader of the BJP and made possible the coronation of Maharani Mala Rajlakshmi as their representative. The victory of Rajlakshmi enhanced the reputation of the royal family and at the same time, ensured that the General could twirl his moustache proudly. Saket Bahuguna’s defeat in the by-election has opened the doors for the BJP. Central Minister Harish Rawat, by making Saket Bahuguna’s defeat as an issue, has started instigating Congress legislators against Vijay Bahuguna. This loss has brought dissent among the Congress to the forefront and the anti Bahuguna group has started regaining strength.

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