U’khand: With Col Kothiyal Leaving AAP Faceless, Will It Recover?

| Updated: 24 May, 2022 10:49 pm IST

DEHRADUN: As Col (Retd) Ajay Kothiyal joined the Bharatiya Janata Party with his 700 odd supporters on Tuesday at the party office in Dehradun in presence of Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, political analysts say that the AAP has lost a credible face and is now faceless in Uttarakhand.

Jay Singh Rawat, Dehradun based political analyst, told The New Indian, “Col Kothiyal has a respectable image and a big following in Uttarakhand. However, that was not reflected in his 2022 electoral performance from Gangotri state assembly.”

“He was the face of the Aam Aadmi Party in Uttarakhand. The AAP is now faceless, back to square one and will have to start from scratch in Uttarakhand. The BJP is a skilled party to utilize the public value of such veterans,” Rawat said.

“Joining the Aam Aadmi Party was not the right decision,” said Kothiyal who was Chief Minister candidate for the AAP in Uttarakhand in the 2022 state assembly elections concluded in March this year.

He will now camp in Champawat for the by-elections rooting for CM Dhami.

Dhami who lost the state assembly elections from the Khatima seat is now contesting from the Champawat assembly seat.

“Me and my supporters who have been with me through and through now want to work for CM Dhami and the people of Uttarakhand. We will camp in Champawat to ask people to vote for our honourable CM,” Kothiyal added.

The 53-year-old decorated Indian Army veteran with various medals including Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, Vishisht Sewa Medal and special service medal has left the AAP in Uttarakhand battered and bruised.

Dinesh Mohaniya, the state in charge of AAP, replying to the queries related to the matter said, “The party doesn’t run due to one person or one face. The organization is in place already. He was given everything by the party. Our leader Arvind Kejriwal trusted him and he was made the CM candidate of the party. What else could the party have given him? Now it’s his decision what to do with the trust.”

The Army veteran also took away the former state president of AAP Bhupesh Upadhyay, 24 other party functionaries along with 700 supporters which also include the Indian Army veterans who have worked under his command and fought by his side in Kashmir and elsewhere.

Those who have witnessed the statehood movement of Uttarakhand and kept an eye on the political evolution of the hill state say that the state tends to favour national parties over regional parties.

Kothiyal got 6161 votes in the 2022 state assembly elections against winner Suresh Chauhan who scored 29619 votes. Col stood third with just 10.33% votes losing his deposits and was left humiliated.

The hill state has also earned the name ‘Graveyard of Regional Parties’, courtesy of voters denying any significant political relevance to any regional party in the political landscape of the state.

Two national parties – the Congress and the BJP have held power in the state since its formation in November 2000.

Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) which was formed in 1979 with the objective of a separate state for hilly areas has lost the support of the very people it fought for.

In the first state assembly elections in 2002, the UKD got four seats out of a total of 70 followed by three in the 2007 elections and just one in 2012. In the 2017 and 2022 state elections, the party was not able to win a single seat.

Samajwadi Party, and Bahujan Samaj Party have their vote share but not enough to make any political impact.

Avtar Singh Rawat (80), a senior advocate from the Supreme Court and Uttarakhand High Court who participated actively in statehood agitation says, “Uttarakhand voters tend to favour national parties with a stronghold in the national capital. Though there was a statehood agitation movement that did not translate into a power centre for any regional party to emerge and challenge the presence of national parties.”

The AAP in its first assembly elections in March this year got only 3.31% votes.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy CM Manish Sisodia travelled Uttarakhand multiple times addressing public meetings, promising guarantees, free power along with pilgrimages to people of all faiths but nothing worked in the favour of AAP.

Following the electoral disaster in 2014, the party decided not to contest the 2017 state assembly elections in which BJP scored a landslide victory.

In the year 2018, the AAP fielded a transgender candidate Rajni Rawat for the mayoral post of Dehradun who stood a distant third behind BJP and Congress candidates.

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