If you seek change you must vote, you must express yourself. Democracy gives us, the electorate, a singular chance every few years to post a referendum on the performance on those who believe they govern us.
As depressing as the quagmire state of politics might be, the key is not to get disenfranchised, but to further engage. As engagement produces dialogue, while the policy in the past to remain disinterested in politics has produced ignorance and discord. The current situation demands us to heavily part take in democracy and governance.
A general trend of the poor and underprivileged voting more consciously emerged in the last few decades. However, with the efforts of the election commission the participation in voting has risen drastically across the country. The latest figures coming from Goa recorded polling percentages as high as 83%.
Voters in Uttarakhand, in order to have an impact on the outcome of the results must turn out in similar numbers and must vote. A fragmented 50-60% voter turnout is dismal and doesn’t represent the electorate’s verdict accurately, further neither does it accord real power with the people elected.
The message is simple, one must vote. Most adults exercising their franchise know what is best for them, and in this case who is the best candidate for them. Only when they go out there and exercise their voting rights can they ensure they receive the best to serve them.
Your roads, your safety, your health, your environment, your family’s prosperity is not isolated from who gains power, and thus it becomes imperative that you vote.
625 men and 62 women in the fray contesting across Uttarakhand
A total of 722 candidates had filed their papers for the February 15 Assembly polls, of which 35 nomination papers were rejected by the election commission in the scrutiny across the 70 constituencies. This left a total of 687 candidates including 625 men and 62 women in the fray to contest the elections across Uttarakhand. 20 of the rejected nominations were filed by independent candidates.
Both BJP and Congress are contesting from all seventy seats in the state and none of the nominations filed by candidates of the two parties were rejected during scrutiny.
Straight contest between Congress-BJP in most seats of Uttarakhand
While a straight fight will ensue in most assembly constituencies only with a couple of exceptions like Haridwar and Udhamsingh Nagar districts. Here the BSP could be the third player. In about 20 seats located in these two districts, BSP can make the contest triangular by pulling together their support base.
A glimpse at the Uttarakhand elections in numbers;
Voters in Uttarakhand:
Male: 39,23,492 Female: 35,72,029
Third gender: 151
Services voters: 97,324
Total number of candidates: 637
Total number of female candidates:62
Number of candidates fielded by political parties
INC 70 BJP 70 UKD 55 BSP 69 SP 21 SS 07
CPI 05 CPM 05 RLD 03
Registered but unrecognized parties 123
Largest Assembly Constituency area wise: 42- Dharchula (5592.1502 sqkm)
Largest Assembly Constituency Electorate wise: 18- Dharampur (183419)
Smallest Assembly Constituency Electorate wise: 1-Purola (67153)
Election Commission has listed 10,854 polling booths in Uttarakhand, where voting would be conducted.
A few strong leaders from both sides have also thrown their hats into the ring as independents making the contest interesting in nearly 18 seats. While 11 former Congress MLAs are in the fray this time battling as BJP nominees, Congress has also fielded three former BJP MLAs. Three former BJP MLAs are also contesting as independents.
Uttarakhand Vikalp is also making its presence felt in 5 constituencies
Uttarakhand Vikalp has finalised the names of five independent candidates whom they have lent support to. Uttarakhand Vikalp aims to provide corruption free and clean politics to the hill state. All the five candidates selected by the outfit are contesting the elections for the first time.
Anoop Nautiyal, contesting from the Dehradun Cantonment assembly seat is also one of the candidates Uttarakhand Vikalp is supporting.
“It is very reassuring to get the backing of people who are non-political and have no axe to grind. It sends out a symbolic message not only to my opponents but also to the people that it is time that the state is free from the clutches of corruption,” said Anoop Nautiyal.
The other four Independents are — Durgesh Lal, who is contesting from Pulora seat, V P S Rawat from Pratapnagar seat, Gopal Chamoli from Tehri and Rajiv Kumar Rajput, who is contesting from the Vikas Nagar constituency.
Rajiv Kumar Rajput said, “Uttarakhand Vikalp is a group of thinking people of the state. Having such individuals campaigning for me will definitely help in the upcoming elections.”
All the candidates have signed an affidavit stating that they will not join any political party if they win.
96% average rise in wealth of sitting MLAs
According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) the assets of many legislators re-contesting elections in Uttarakhand have gone up exponentially as declared in their nomination papers.
As per the ADR report, out of the 60 sitting legislators contesting again in the 2017 elections, the wealth of 55 has increased in the past five years. The remaining five, include finance minister Indira Hridayesh, Mal Chand, Bishan Singh Chupal, Puran Singh Fartyal and Rajesh Shukla. Hridayesh stood at the bottom of the list with a decline of 26% in her wealth from Rs 5 crore to Rs 4 crore.
The average rise in the assets of the 55 MLAs re-contesting was 96%; BJP candidates’ wealth rose by 85%, Congress’ 105%, BSP’s 175% stated the report.
Some of them registered a rise of as much as 1219%, like in the case of Congress’ Ghansali candidate Bhim Lal Arya, compared to 2012, who then was in BJP – had assets worth Rs 4 lakh, which have gone up to Rs 54 lakh in 2017.
Now BJP candidate Shailendra Mohan Singhal’s assets have shot up by 1015% from Rs 3 crore to Rs 35 crore. Singhal, a doctor, also owns a nursing home.
The assets of Congress MLA Madan Singh Bisht have gone up approximately by 863% from Rs 12 lakh to more than Rs 1 crore.
Independent candidate Dinesh Dhanai’s properties have grown by 636%.
Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat’s assets increased by 30%. In 2012, his assets were worth Rs 4.84 crore, which in five years increased to Rs 6.31 crore, a growth of Rs 1.46 crore.