The chief of the BJP’s Uttarakhand unit Ajay Bhatt has emerged as the dark horse after he was asked to contest from Nainital in the Lok Sabha election 2019 since he was not initially in the reckoning.
The eloquent politician got the opportunity after former chief minister and the BJP’s sitting parliamentarian BS Koshiyari declined to contest from the seat citing his age.
Uttarakhand has five Lok Sabha seats and all will vote on April 11, the first phase of polling.
The 57-year-old Bhatt took over as the party president around four years ago and has also been the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the assembly after the BJP lost the 2012 state election to the Congress.
For the BJP, it was a momentous period that saw some nine former Congress heavyweights joining the party just months ahead of the 2017 assembly polls.
The beginning of the split in the Congress began during the assembly’s budget session. The crucial role Bhatt played on the floor of the House to help fashion the split in the Congress is said to have brought him closer to BJP chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This relationship between Bhatt and Shah and Modi was further cemented after the Bharatiya Janata Party swept the 2017 assembly polls with an unprecedented majority.
Bhatt, however, lost the state election from his home constituency of Ranikhet that year and thus the chance to helm the state. At a public meeting held in Ranikhet during campaigning before assembly election 2017, BJP leader and Union minister JP Nadda had assured the people that Bhatt would be made the chief minister if the party returned to power.
The Lok Sabha election 2019 has presented the BJP leadership with an opportunity to rehabilitate Bhatt, whose tenure as the president of the party’s state unit is coming to an end soon. Koshiyari’s flat refusal to contest the election paved the way for the party brass to field Bhatt from Nainital.
Some BJP insiders, however, feel that the going could be tough for the dapper politician as he would be contesting an election outside his home constituency for the first time. Others feel that as a seasoned leader Bhatt would sail through with some efforts on his and the party’s part. Besides, his effective oratory skill is said to be his strong point.
BJP insiders were, at the same time, unanimous that Bhatt could win the election riding the Modi wave sweeping through the country after the PM allowed airstrikes on a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
Mar 22, 2019 16:02 IST