The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds a clear edge over the ruling Congress in Uttarakhand Assembly elections- which will go to polls on coming 15 February. Riding on the anti-incumbency wave of Harish Rawat government and the CM‘s tattered image after TV sting operations, BJP is hopeful of forming the next government in the hill state. Various factors indicates that BJP can win 35-38 seats in the 70 member Uttarakhand assembly.

BJP is basking on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while Congress has made Harish Rawat the face for the elections. Its Modi versus Har Da in Uttarakhand.

The bygone three state assembly elections held in 2002, 2007 and 2012, clearly hints that close fight prevail between BJP and Congress and both the national parties have failed to fulfil the aspirations of the highlanders. Annoyed public dumped the ruling party and opted for other in anger in every election. That’s a set trend so far in Uttarakhand. One term for Congress, other for BJP.

Congress rebels, who revolted against the Harish Rawat government and later joined the saffron party, provides additional muscles in many seats where the  BJP was weak. In 2002 state assembly polls, Congress won 36 seat and BJP 19 seats. In 2007, BJP claimed 35 seats, reducing Congress to 21, to form the government. In the last Uttarakhand assembly polls, both Congress (32 seats) and BJP (31 seats) failed to achieve majority figure on their own. Congress formed an alliance government by taking help of BSP, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and thee independent MLAs.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat is appealing for providing him next five year, as in the existing term he failed to get sufficient time. Poll strategy wise the concept appears perfect, but the Rawat regime was no different from other Chief Ministers. Alike his earlier counterparts, Chief Minister Rawat failed miserably to do anything to check corruption, any check on illegal sand mining, tackling migration problem and ensure transparency in transfer/posting of government staff.

The only hope of Harish Rawat to make a repeat lies of Congress sweeping the plain districts of the hill state like Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar. Congress wants to capitalize on the big minority population of the two districts for the 2017 win. In the last election the 20 seats of Udham Singh Nagar and Haridwar witnessed, BJP winning 11 seats from the two districts. Congress has laid more focus of the plain districts this time and as a strategy Harish Rawat is contesting a seat each from Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar.

But, BJP has made the issue political by advocating that why a leader like Harish Rawat is not contesting from any seat in from the hill. Over a dozen senior Congress leaders have abandoned their party to contest under BJP symbol. Five Congress rebels were sitting MLAs from the assembly seats located in Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar. So, BJP has made elaborated planning to overcome any anti-incumbency against their sitting MLAs from the two plain district by adopting the ‘booster doze’ of Congress rebels.

After Congress and BJP declared its candidates list, many ticket seekers became angry and are contesting as independent candidates. BJP have expelled 17 rebel party leaders who are contesting as independent candidates from different seats. Uttarakhand Congress is facing similar situation with over two dozen rebels. So, both national parties are facing common problem of rebels.

BJP will cash on the anti-incumbency of Congress government, popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one rank one pension (OROP) implementation and surgical strike. The TV news sting operation against Harish Rawat, showing him taking about horse-trading, and his aide involved in chat demanding money for awarding liquor rights have damaged the image of the Congress government.

OROP and surgical strike will help BJP as it is believed that one from every family from Uttarakhand serves in the Indian army. Harish Rawat fails to provide any logic on the reason for many senior leader from Garhwal leaving Congress. In fact after the revolt of ex-Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and others, Congress is struggling for big names in Garhwal.

Harish Rawat is praying for the BJP rebels to hit their party more and help Congress to win in triangular fight in many seats. That’s the only imaginary thing that indicates return of Rawat government, otherwise BJP appears to bloom in the Uttarakhand Himalayas.