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Haridwar, the holy hub of Uttarakhand, is the scene of a prestige contest between Rawat and Rawat

As the religious hub of the Haridwar Lok Sabha seat prepares for the April 19 election, the reputation of two previous Uttarakhand chief ministers is in jeopardy.

In this vital seat, former Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is making his debut appearance in the Lok Sabha election, taking the place of former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. The Congress, on the other hand, has nominated Virendra Singh Rawat, the son of former chief minister Harish Rawat. This seat has enormous political importance in Hill State politics, and both parties are fighting hard to capture this pious city. Whereas Trivendra Singh Rawat, 64, views this election as a fresh start for central politics, Virendra Singh Rawat, 48, sees it as the start of his political career.

Taking no chances, Harish Rawat personally manages his son’s election campaign, organizing a number of road shows, door-to-door solicitations, and rallies on street corners. He is often seen at the front of the motorbike convoy. Virendra, who is often seen nodding in agreement next to Rawat, goes with the former chief minister to another public event. Given Rawat’s seniority in the party, party members are expecting his efforts to be dispersed nationwide and are hardly hiding their displeasure.

Apart from Priyanka Gandhi, who spoke at two rallies in support of Virendra Rawat, the entire Congress leadership is absent from the campaign; not a single politician participated in the Uttarakhand campaign. Even Anupama Rawat, the daughter of Rawat and the incumbent state assembly member for Haridwar Rural, is assisting her brother in his door-to-door campaigning.

However, thirty-year political veteran Trivendra Rawat also oversaw a rigorous campaign. Trivendra benefits from having the backing of Yogi Adityanath and the national BJP leadership in addition to his local leadership.

Haridwar’s religious importance attracts people from all across the nation, so much so that the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) continue to see the constituency as a major priority. There are 13 Akharas in this holy land that are home to saints and seers, thus, there are significant political stakes.

Trivendra Singh Rawat, filled with confidence about his chances, said he was certain of winning, pointing to broad support from several societal groups. He underlined the BJP’s emphasis on efficient booth administration, noting in particular the sizeable number of agricultural workers who are receiving benefits from federal initiatives and their admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP’s ability to draw notable members of other parties in Haridwar into its fold has further bolstered its confidence.

However, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has Jamil Ahamad Qasmi as its candidate, has further muddled the political scene in Haridwar. The BSP’s entrance into the race presents difficulties for the Congress and the BJP because of its sizable base of support among voters in the state of Tamil Nadu. Among Muslims and Dalits, the BSP has a vote share of around 35%. In Uttarakhand, the BSP received 14% of the total votes cast in the most recent Lok Sabha election.

Umesh Kumar Pattarkar, the Khanpur MLA, has entered the race as an independent in the midst of these developments, further destabilizing the political landscape.

The BSP, BJP, and Congress make up the SC electorate, which is trying to hold onto its Muslim support base. At present, the Haridwar seat has more than twenty lakh votes cast, with more than four lakh Muslims and three lakh Dalits making up the majority of the voter base. The Other Backward Classes, which include Gurjars, Sainis, and Jats, make up around twenty percent. While Brahmins, Thakurs, and Baniyas comprise the higher castes, which account for a total of 30%.

The main concerns for the residents of Haridwar are, apart from the Ghats and Ganga needing cleaning, unemployment, unkempt appearance, traffic congestion, and the increase in population in the holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh. Undoubtedly, Uttarakhand has seen significant progress as a result of the Char-Dham Yatra project. However, wealthy businessmen are increasingly buying houses in the holy towns, turning them into popular tourist destinations that pose a danger to the local population. Mahesh Joshi, a local priest, said, “We cannot see our religious places turning into tourist destinations like Goa.”

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