Dehradun: The BJP is set to win 4-5 seats in Uttarakhand while the Congress may end up with a single seat or nothing at all, according to the News18-Ipsos exit poll.
The Chanakya-News 24 survey has given BJP full majority in the state, with the Congress and others getting zero seats. The exit poll by ABP Neilsen has predicted the BJP to win four seats, Congress 1 and others 0.
Uttarakhand, which was carved out of Uttar Pradesh 19 years ago, has always witnessed a bipolar contest between the BJP and the Congress. In the 2014 elections, the BJP had made a clean sweep of all five Lok Sabha seats in the state.
This year, both parties are locked in a tight contest, with 'battle of the CMs' dotting the political horizon. This time, the key issues in the hill state were the man-animal conflict, migration and weakening agricultural practices, unemployment and job crisis, lack of drinking water supply and poor road connectivity. Surprisingly, the pitch to make Gairsain the state capital was missing from the discourse this time, though it was hotly debated during the assembly polls.
Rawat Versus Rawat
Led by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, the BJP has put up a strong fight against the Congress under former chief minister Harish Rawat, who seeks to reclaim the grand old party's lost glory in the state.
The 'battle of the CMs' has made Nainital the most keenly watched seat this election. While the Congress fielded Harish Rawat from the seat, Trivendra was seen on a whirlwind tour of the state campaigning for the BJP and constituency candidate Ajay Bhatt. Though Bhatt is Uttarakhand BJP chief and a prominent face in the state, he is a fresh face in Nainital.
Why is Nainital Crucial?
Nainital is considered a prestigious seat as it was previously held by former defence minister KC Pant and former Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand CM, the late ND Tiwari.
BJP stalwart Bhagat Singh Koshyari has been a known face in Nainital for years and is also the sitting MP. However, Koshyari, who was the CM for a year from 2001 to 2002, outed out of the poll race this year, following which Bhatt was fielded from the constituency.
It’s a first for Congress's Harish Rawat, too, in Nainital. The grand old party's 'poster boy' in Uttarakhand, Rawat has been a five-time MP and was the minister of water resources in the cabinet of Manmohan Singh during 2012-2014.
Rawat, however, has fought and won polls from Almora and Haridwar, but it is his first stint from Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar constituency.
Legacy Battle in Pauri Garhwal
It's a battle of legacy in the constituency this year. The son of Garhwal MP is battling it out with the leader's disciple. Former chief minister and senior BJP leader BC Khanduri's son Manish came under the spotlight when he joined the Congress and was pitted from the seat.
While Khanduri cited ill-health for not contesting polls, the BJP fielded his disciple Tirath Singh Rawat from the seat. Tirath was elevated to the post of state president in 2013 due to the "blessings of his political guru" BC Khanduri.
Haridwar: The Only Triangular Contest
Bahujan Samaj Party's Antriksh Saini has been giving anxious moments to both BJP and Congress here. While the saffron party has fielded former CM Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', Ambrish Kumar is contesting on a Congress ticket.
In Haridwar, Saini is banking on the traditional Dalit and Muslim votes, and believes that the SP-BSP alliance in UP and Uttarakhand will work in his favour. He is also the second richest candidate in the fray with assets worth Rs 86 crore.
Tehri Garhwal's Battle Royale
BJP's sitting MP Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah is facing Uttarakhand Congress chief Pritam Singh, who is a five-time MLA and a former minister too. Mala is the daughter-in-law of Maharaja Manabendra Shah, scion of the Tehri royal family and eight-time MP from the constituency. She is also the richest candidate in the fray with declared total assets of about Rs 184 crore (both her and her husband's assets).
The BJP leader gained the Tehri seat for the first time in 2012 through a by-election as the then sitting MP and Congress stalwart had to vacate the seat and take over as Uttarakhand CM. She again won in 2014 after defeating Bahuguna's son Saket Bahuguna.