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Congress Leader & Former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat Loses From Lalkuwa Seat

Rawat was originally supposed to contest from the Ramnagar seat, as per the Congress' second list of candidates.

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Congress leader and former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat lost from the Lalkuwa constituency by a staggering 17,527 votes to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mohan Singh Bisht, who had consistently maintained his lead since counting began on Thursday, 10 March.

Rawat was originally supposed to contest from the Ramnagar seat as per the Congress' second list of candidates.

However, his seat was later changed to Lalkuwa.

Speaking to The Quint about the change in his seat, he had said, "It's the party's decision. In fact, the Lalkuan seat and those like Haldwani are at the heart of Uttarakhand's Kumaon region. The party has strategically decided that I contest from the foothills. So, instead of the foothills of Ramnagar, they have decided that I contest from the foothills of Lalkuan."

He had denied that the seat shuffle happened because some other leader wanted it, saying that the Congress evaluated the situation after voices were raised, which is normal following ticket distribution.

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Loss From 2 Seats in 2017

In the 2017 polls, Lalkuwa seat was won by Naveen Chandra Dumka of the BJP, who defeated INC candidate Harish Chandra Durgapal by a margin of over 27,000 votes.

A veteran Congress leader and former CM of Uttarakhand, Rawat had unsuccessfully contested from the Kichcha and Haridwar Rural assembly seats in the 2017 polls.

The former CM had lost the Kichcha seat by a very slender margin of less than 100 votes, to the incumbent Rajesh Shukla of the BJP. Meanwhile, in Haridwar Rural, the leader was defeated by BJP rival Yatishwaranand, with a margin of around 9,000 votes.

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Dissatisfaction & Pre-Poll Promises

In January, Rawat had dismissed rumours of fighting within the Congress unit and stated, "We are one and under the leadership of Sonia ji and Rahul ji… I am sure we will ensure a victory for Uttarakhand."

The news of infighting had come to light in December 2021 when Rawat posted a bunch of tweets targeting the party leadership.

However, Congress was able to quell Rawat’s dissatisfaction by making him head of the campaign committee in Uttarakhand, the face of election campaigning in the hill state.

In an interview with NDTV, Rawat had spoken about the Haridwar hate speech row and said that if his party comes to power, action against Hindutva leaders who made genocidal calls against Muslims will be taken “immediately.”

How Congress Fared in 2017 Polls

Held on 14 February, the Uttarakhand Assembly elections saw a 62.5 percent voter turnout across the 13 districts. The exit poll results for the state on Monday, 7 March, indicated a drop in the ruling BJP's seat share, forecasting a tight fight with the Congress.

In the state's previous elections, which were held in 2017, the BJP, led by Trivendra Singh Rawat, had claimed an overwhelming victory, winning 57 of the 70 seats.

The Congress party had finished second with 11 seats, and the remaining two seats had gone to independent candidates.

The Bahujan Samaj Party had also participated in the polls, but had failed to get off the mark.

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