Uttarakhand polls: BJP, Congress set to slug it out to form new government
Uttarakhand will elect a new government Thursday in what is expected to be a narrow contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress, with exit polls predicting in favour (just) of the ruling outfit. ABP-CVoter gives the Congress the edge with 32-38 seats in the 70-member house. India Today-Axis My India, News 24-Today's Chanakya, Times Now-Veto and Republic P-Marq lean the other way, giving the BJP 36-46, 36-50, 37 and 35-39 seats, respectively. The majority mark in the Uttarakhand Assembly is 36 seats. A prediction of voteshare carried out by Lokniti-CSDS gives the BJP the edge as well, with 43 per cent expected to go to them and 38 per cent to the Congress.
Less than a year ago a BJP win looked unlikely - the party was struggling with leadership issues and was ruthless enough to change its chief minister thrice in four months, with Pushkar Dhami, the incumbent, taking charge in July.
The BJP government's handling of the pandemic - allowing the Kumbh Mela to proceed at the peak of infections - was condemned, as were many objectionable and sexist comments by one of the swiftly-replaced chief ministers.
Since then, though, there seems to have been a steady swing to (and consolidation of) the BJP's vote base in the hill state.
Dhami told ANI this week that he was confident of outperforming predictions, saying "I believe there will be more when result is out".
While the BJP is confident, the Congress is cautious.
So much so it has sent senior leaders to 13 districts to monitor the counting process amid worries of vote manipulation and poaching.
The opposition party has also deployed 13 legal teams of 10 advocates each who will assist polling agents in case they need advice during the counting process.
The BJP is more sanguine but has deputed 15 senior leaders to keep watch from a control room set up in capital Dehradun.
In the 2017 election the BJP bagged 57 of the 70 seats on offer - a return they are unlikely to match this year, particularly since votes will also be pulled by the Aam Aadmi Party. However, if the exit polls are right, they should still have enough to get to the finish line first.
With input from ANI