Uttarakhand: BJP denies tickets to 2 ministers

Dehra Dun: In the run up to the January 30 assembly polls in Uttarakhand, both the ruling BJP and Congress have had their share of post-ticket distribution revolts but the saffron party seems to have suffered more. According to sources in both the parties, Congress and BJP are facing rebel candidates in about two dozen constituencies.

While Congress has not denied any ticket to its sitting MLA to avoid any rebellion, the ruling BJP has created a political storm by axing nearly 12 of the total 36 sitting MLAs from the poll race in the face of anti-incumbency. These also include two ministers Khajan Das and Govind Singh Bist.

Congress is facing not-so-severe rebellion in the party where leaders like former Animal Husbandry Minister Mantri Prasad Naithani are grumbling after being denied tickets.

However, former Chief Minister N D Tiwari, who was initially upset after being ignored by the party high command, managed to get two tickets for his nephew Manish Tiwari and OSD Aryender Sharma.

Naithani is ready to file nomination papers from Devprayag constituency as an independent, Jot Singh Bist, a staunch supporter of Union Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Harish Rawat, has already filed nomination from Dhanaulti. .

However, Congress is not ready to take any chance and has appealed to all the rebel candidates to withdraw in support of party`s official candidates.

Senior party leaders like Suresh Pauchori would shortly visit the hill state in what is being seen as a damage control exercise by Congress to control the situation.

"We are expecting our top leaders to visit shortly and pacify all those leaders who have been left out," said Surendra Kumar, a state Congress spokesman.

Unlike Congress, most of the BJP MLAs are now gearing up to upset the party`s applecart at the hustings.

Last week, a handful of party MLAs led by Khajan Das held a series of public demonstrations in protest against the denial of tickets. Such protests within the ranks and files of BJP came from other parts of the state also.

Former tourism minister T P S Rawat, who last year quit BJP to float Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha, has already started poaching on the disgruntled BJP leaders. URM has given ticket to senior BJP leader and former minister Kedar Singh Fonia from Badrinath.

Similarly, Anil Nautiyal, who won the Karanprayag seat twice, has also decided to contest as independent after he was denied ticket by the saffron party despite being a close confidante of former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.

There are also reports in the party circles that bonhomie between chief minister B C Khanduri and former chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari has ended over the distribution of tickets.

Both Koshiyari and Khanduri had joined hands to oust Nishank from the post of chief minister last year.