DEHRADUN: The BJP announced its first list of 59 candidates for the February 14 Uttarakhand Assembly polls on Thursday, dropping 10 MLAs including rape accused Mahesh Negi and former chief minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri’s daughter Ritu Khanduri, while reposing confidence in new faces.
The ruling party has not announced its candidates for the 11 remaining seats, most of which are in the Congress’s kitty.
A decision on some of these seats could not be taken due to the changed political circumstances in the state, sources said.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami will contest from Khatima and state BJP chief Madan Kaushik from Haridwar, as in the last Assembly polls, while most of the cabinet ministers and MLAs have been fielded from the seats they hold.
However, the BJP has dropped Dwarahat MLA Mahesh Negi from his seat as he had caused embarrassment to the party when a woman accused him of rape, the sources said.
He has been replaced by Anil Shahi.
Yamkeshwar MLA Ritu Khanduri has also been dropped and Renu Bisht fielded from the seat.
Other MLAs who failed to get a party ticket are Munni Devi from Tharali, Surendra Singh Negi from Karnaprayag, Kunwar Pranav Singh “Champion” from Khanpur, Mukesh Singh Koli from Pauri, Meena Gangola from Gangolihat, Balwant Singh Bhauryal from Kapkot and Raghunath Singh Chauhan from Almora.
Kashipur MLA Harbhajan Singh Cheema has also been replaced with his son Trilok Singh Cheema.
By dropping controversial legislators like Pranav Singh “Champion” and Mahesh Negi, the party has given a clear message that indiscipline will not be tolerated, the sources said, adding that under-performance may also have been a reason behind dropping a few others from the list.
However, fielding most of the cabinet ministers and MLAs from their present seats also shows the party’s confidence in the work it has done over the last five years, they said.
Independent MLAs Pritam Singh Panwar and Ram Singh Kaira, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last year, have been fielded from Dhanolti and Bhimtal respectively.
Sarita Arya, who defected from the Congress to the BJP just a couple of days ago, has also been fielded from Nainital.
Purola MLA Rajkumar, who joined the saffron party last year, did not get a ticket from the seat as he has been replaced by Durgeshwar Lal, who joined the party on Thursday.
The ruling party has fielded Savita Kapoor, the wife of eight-time MLA from the Cantonment area late Harbans Kapoor, from the seat, while it has gambled on Suresh Chauhan in Gangotri.
Gopal Singh Rawat, the MLA from Gangotri, died last year.
Wife of Kunwar Pranav Singh “Champion” Kunwarani Devyani has been fielded from her husband’s seat, Khanpur.
Kailash Sharma has been fielded from Almora in place Raghunath Singh Chauhan, who represents the seat in the Assembly.
The BJP’s first list of nominees includes six women, which is 10 per cent of the total number of candidates.
State BJP vice-president Devendra Bhasin said the list is very balanced and the party will easily achieve its target of winning more than 60 seats due to the “winnability” factor of the candidates.
The 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly will go to polls on February 14 and the counting of votes will be taken up on March 10.