Uttarakhand is a relatively young state, having been formed in November 2000. The 7.71 million voters out of its population of 10.08 million will vote for the five Lok Sabha seats on 11 April. Mint runs you through the electoral puzzle of the state.
What are the natural resources in the state?
Uttarakhand has international boundaries with China in the north and Nepal in the east. It is rich in natural resources, with glaciers, rivers, dense forests and snow-clad peaks. It has almost all major climatic zones, making it amenable to a variety of commercial opportunities in horticulture, floriculture and agriculture. The hilly state has vast potential in adventure, leisure and eco-tourism. It also has abundant deposits of limestone, marble, rock phosphate, dolomite, magnesite and copper. Most of its industries are forest-based. A little more than one-fifth of the state’s population belongs to the reserved categories.
Which parties dominate its politics?
It’s the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party has failed to make an impact in elections in all these years. Carved out of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand may not have been able to stamp its electoral significance, but has produced many key leaders. Its first chief minister, N.D. Tiwari, was an old-time Congressman, while the BJP’s B.C. Khanduri can arguably qualify as the tallest leader of the state. Others who have made a mark include the BJP’s Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Ramesh Pokhriyal (Nishank), as well as Harish Rawat and Indira Hridayesh of the Congress.
What was the electoral arithmetic last time?
The BJP won all five Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 polls. Repeating the feat won’t be easy, given the dissension in the party. The state has one seat, Almora, reserved for scheduled castes.
What are the major issues?
Uttarakhand’s voter turnout in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls was 61.6%, compared to the national average of 66.4%. The anger over fewer employment opportunities, implementation of GST and demonetisation may trigger a higher turnout this time. The lack of economic growth is hurting the state’s youth, who are forced to go to other states for higher studies and jobs. Small land holdings are making farming increasingly unproductive. Most people also do not have access to good healthcare facilities.
How are the key politicians faring?
The BJP has dropped Khanduri, Koshyari, Lok Sabha members, and former chief ministers for the elections. Khanduri was keen that his son Manish gets a BJP ticket but that did not happen. Manish has shifted to the Congress and will fight from Garhwal against BJP’s Tirath Singh Rawat. Maharani Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah faces anti-incumbency and will take on the Congress’ Pritam Singh in Tehri. Former chief minister Rawat will contest from Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar against state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt.