DAINIK NATION BUREAU
Amid anxious wait for the outcome of the assembly elections which would be declared on March 11 and reports of neck to neck contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress, Karnprayag assembly constituency located in Chamoli district has become a cynosure of all eyes. The election of this constituency was postponed due to death of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Kuldeep Singh Kanwasi prior to the date of polling February 15. In hope of garnering sympathy votes the BSP has fielded Jyoti Kanwasi, widow of Kuldeep. The voting in this constituency would be held on March 9 and prominent leaders of both Congress and BJP are expected to hit the campaign trail here.
Karnprayag assembly constituency was represented by the deputy speaker Anusuya Prasad Maikhuri in the outgoing assembly. In the assembly elections of 2012, Maikhuri got better of Surendra Singh Negi, an independent candidate by a thin margin of only 227 votes in a four cornered contest. BJP’s candidate Harish Pujari was relegated to third position in the poll. This time Negi is contesting on BJP’s ticket and is making things difficult for Maikhuri.
This assembly constituency derived its name from Karnprayag town situated at the confluence of Alaknanada and Pindar river. Karnprayag is considered as one of the strongholds of BJP. In the assembly elections of 2002, Anil Nautiyal of BJP won this seat by defeating Surendra Singh. Nautiyal retained the seat in the assembly election of 2007 when he trounced Prithvipal of Congress by a margin of more than 7000 votes. The BJP unexpectedly denied nomination to Nautiyal, a two time MLA and gave ticket to Harish Pujari in the election of 2012. A miffed Nautiyal entered in the electoral fray and cornered 6631 votes and ensured defeat of BJP candidate who remained in third position.
This time BJP has fielded Negi from here and he has managed to get the support of Nautiyal. There is a direct contest between Negi considered a local political heavy weight and Maikhuri. The BSP is also trying to make the contest three cornered by whipping up sympathy for its candidate Jyoti. However the locals are of the view that BSP would not cut much ice with sympathy plan as in the social culture of mountainous regions it is not considered proper for a recently widowed woman to come out of home and seek votes during the period of mourning.
People list the issue of state capital at Gairsain – located in the constituency- as one of the major subject for the polls. “All the leaders talk about making Gairsain the permanent capital of the state but do nothing for it. Three assembly sessions held here were nothing but a picnic for legislators,’’ said one resident of Gairsain. The non availability of doctors in government hospitals, infrastructural development and demand of a separate district of Gairsain are some of the other issues.
The Congress candidate Maikhuri is banking on performance of state government and developmental activities undertaken in last five years. “The people here have made up their mind to vote for congress as they have realised that Congress under leadership of Harish Rawat would form the government again,’’ he said.