Uttarakhand or Uttaranchal, one of India's newest hill states was carved out of northern Uttar Pradesh on 9th November 2000. It is the 27th state of the country. The Garhwal-Kumaon divide has always been a part of Uttarakhand politics. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress(INC), Communist party of India (CPI), etc. are some of the leading political parties of the state besides regional parties like Samajwadi Party (SP), Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] and Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)]. Since the first elections, which were conducted in 2002, the BJP and the Congress held governments alternately.
Polling in Uttarakhand took place on 14 February 2022. Uttarakhand headed for a close fight between Indian PM Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposing Indian National Congress. The state is currently ruled by the BJP. The opinion poll revealed that these were the issues people of Uttarakhand were more concerned about were Unemployment: 23%, Electricity/Water/Roads: 21 %, Land Law: 14%, Migration: 13%, and Health Care: 10%. The unicameral Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly has 70 seats. This is how the seats were expected to be won by parties in upcoming elections BJP: 33 seats, Congress: 35 seats, Aam Aadmi Party: 1 seat, Others: 1 seat.
The northern hill state of Uttarakhand was thought to be a tough battleground for the BJP, where the party in 2021 changed its chief ministers thrice in four months. Of the five States that went to the polls in early 2022, the BJP won four - Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa - while the Aam Aadmi Party swept Punjab. In Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand, where its main rival was the Congress, the BJP won enough seats to form the government. In Uttarakhand, this is the first time any party has won a second term in the State. The Congress was embroiled in infighting while the BJP’s top leaders visited the State to campaign and focused on development work.
The elections to the state's first Legislative Assembly were held in 2002. For this first election, 28 political parties including national, state and registered parties participated, with 927 contestants. The number of electors was 52,70,375, out of which 54.34% cast their votes. Since then, Uttarakhand has held regular elections to the Legislative Assembly. Uttarakhand sends five members to the Lok Sabha, and the Congress won all in 2009.
The assembly elections were held in 2012. Polling was conducted in all 70 constituencies in single phase. The Indian National Congress won 32 seats while the BJP got 31. Although it did not secure majority, the Congress emerged as the single largest party and formed government by allying with the PDF. Congress member Vijay Bahaguna was appointed the chief minister. But popular disaffection against his administration started showing up soon after as he was perceived to be spending most of his time in Delhi.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna resigned 31 January 2014, reportedly under pressure from his party, the Congress, to accept responsibility for the shoddy rehabilitation work carried out by his government after the 2013 flash floods in which nearly a thousand people died, and another 4000 were reported missing. After Bahaguna's resignation, Harish Rawat became the state's new chief minister in 2014.
The five constituencies for Uttarakhand which took part in the 16th Lok Sabha elections in 2014 saw a sweeping victory by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Almora, Garhwal, Hardwar, Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar and Tehri Garhwal were the five constituencies in the state which were bagged by the BJP.
In 2016, the Harish Rawat government had a difficult time when President’s rule was imposed in the state after nine Congress leaders joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna had joined the BJP in May 2016.
The BJP won 57 of the 70 constituencies in Uttarakhand, reducing the ruling Congress to dismal 11 seats. A party needs 36 seats to form government in the state. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party was completely decimated in the Uttarakhand assembly election.
Development was one of the major issues in the elections. Besides corruption charges, the Congress government in the state has struggled with infighting and anti-incumbency.
Following the Congress' poor show, chief minister Harish Rawat resigned. Mr Rawat contested the poll from two constituencies, Hardwar Rural and Kiccha, but failed to win either. "I accept the defeat of Congress. My leadership may not have been up to the mark and resulted in the party's failure," said Chief Minister Harish Rawat. Earlier, Harish Rawat had managed to survive an attempt to topple his government and had played the victim card, but the results show that it did not work. ‘There was something lacking in my leadership as a result of which Congress lost,’ the incumbent chief minister said.
Later, addressing the media, Mr Rawat congratulated the "Modi kranti (revolution) and EVM chamatkar (miracle)". However, he was quick to add, "I am not raising any questions" when reporters pressed him to elaborate on the comment. Following the BJP's victory, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reciprocated by tweeting "Long Live Democracy". PM Modi also praised BJP chief Amit Shah, party workers, state office beaters "for their exemplary work in taking the party to new heights".
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