After failing to stem revolts, both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress in Uttarakhand have started expelling rebellious leaders in the run-up to the January 30 assembly elections in a desperate bid to discredit them. The two parties have had their share of post-ticket distribution revolts in over 20-22 out of the total 70 constituencies. The BJP has so far expelled nearly 22 leaders, including four sitting MLAs -- Kedar Singh Fonia, Raj Kumar, G L Shah and Anil Nautiyal.
The ruling party, which fielded nearly 36 new faces, 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 cabinet ministers -- Khajan Das and Govind Singh Bisht, who appear to have now fallen in line after showing discontent initially.
In a damage control exercise, BJP political managers succeeded in convincing some of the sulking party leaders not to hurt the chances of official candidates. Despite failing to get BJP tickets, a handful of leaders decided not to contest elections, which is being seen as a major relief to the party. The saffron party is now facing severe crisis in Chamoli district where all the three seats are being contested by rebel candidates.
From Badrinath, former minister Fonia is fighting election, while G L Shah and Anil Nautiyal, both Ramesh Nishank loyalists, will contest from Tharali and Karanprayag. Congress gave a ticket to its sitting MLA to avoid rebellion, but it is still facing revolt.
The party, which is divided in three major camps belonging to leaders Harish Rawat, Vijay Bahuguna and Satpal Maharaj, has denied tickets to many loyalists, who in turn are playing spoilsport in other camps. For example, Jot Singh Bist, a Harish Rawat loyalist, is fighting independently against Manmohan Mall, who is a staunch supporter of Bahuguna.
Former minister Mantri Prasad Naithani, a Maharaj loyalist, is contesting from Devprayag against official candidate Shurvir Sajwan. Congress sources said that weak management by state party leaders was the reason for the rebellion becoming more severe. Nevertheless, the party has expelled nearly five of its leaders, including Naithani and Bist, as they refused to withdraw.
Former tourism minister T P S Rawat, who last year quit BJP to float Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha, has fielded some of the disgruntled leaders from both BJP and Congress.