DAINIK NATION BUREAU
The defeat of outgoing Chief Minister Harish Rawat from two assembly constituencies (Haridwar rural and Kichha) in the recently concluded Vidhan Sabha elections has shown that the people of state have a knack of dishing out electoral reverses to the sitting Chief Ministers. Interestingly the defeat of the Chief Ministers also ensured that their respective parties failed to retain power.
The antipathy of the people towards the serving Chief Ministers started with the first assembly elections after creation of a separate state of Uttarakhand. The state was carved out of erstwhile Uttar Pradesh in the year 2000 and the BJP appointed Nityanand Swami as first Chief Minister of state. In the first assembly elections of the state held in the year 2002, Swami chose to contest from Dharampur assembly constituency. Swami and his party was confidant that he would sail through as Party was credited with fulfillment of a long standing demand of a separate state of Uttarakhand and had a political novice in form of Dinesh Agarwal of Congress as opponent. The people of Dharapur though had different idea and Agarwal defeated Chief Minister Swami by a margin of more than 1500 votes. Swami could never recover from the shock of this defeat and went into political retirement
In the assembly elections of 2007 the then Chief Minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari chose not to contest the elections. Five years later in the 2012 Chief Minister Major General Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri (Rtd) contested from Kotdwar assembly constituency. Khanduri was the projected Chief Minister by BJP which fought the elections on ‘Khanduri Hai Jaroori’ slogan. The people of Kotdwar served a major jolt to BJP and Khanduri was forced to bite dust in the contest which saw Surendra Singh Negi of Congress proving to be a giant killer. He defeated Khanduri by a margin of 4623 votes.
In the recently concluded elections Harish Rawat contested from two assembly seats one each in Garhwal and Kumaon to demonstrate his stature as leader of state but lost from both places. BJP’s Yatishwaranand trounced Rawat by a margin of 12278 votes in Haridwar rural while in Kichha Rajesh Shukla defeated him by 2127 votes.
The political observers opine that the frequency of sitting chief minister loosing in assembly elections is more in small states than in larger states. In the recently concluded assembly elections the Chief Minister of Goa (a small state) Laxmikant Pariskar got defeated from Mandrem assembly segment. They pointed out that in Uttarakhand Khanduri in 2012 and Harish Rawat in 2017 elections were faces and star campaigners of their respective parties due to which they could give very little time to the assembly segments they were contesting.