Uttarakhand Elections: Political Parties Pull out All Stops to Win Defence Votes

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), February 8, 2017 | Go to article overview

Uttarakhand Elections: Political Parties Pull out All Stops to Win Defence Votes


India, Feb. 8 -- The sizeable population of ex-servicemen and widows in Uttarakhand has led to both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress trying their best to woo the 2.5 lakh voters from the community residing in the hill state. The BJP aims to lure the sizeable vote base by drawing attention towards the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OPOP) scheme; while the Harish Rawat- led Congress has promised a separate ministry for former soldiers, if it is voted to power. The BJP, however, appears to be a step behind the Congress as it has failed to project a candidate representing the forces. The Congress on the other hand as fielded three candidates -- TPS Rawat, SS Negi and Ranjeet Rawat-that have a connection with the armed forces. Political set up Representation from the armed forces is significant in the state due to the sizeable vote bank constituted by ex-servicemen, widows, veterans and those presently serving. Understanding the importance of army vote bank in state, BJP has Major General BC Khanduri -currently an MP from Pauri - campaigning in the Garhwal region where the concentration is highest. The Congress appears to not have taken the full advantage of its representives of the armed forces as its candidates TPS Rawat and Negi have been limited to their constituencies. Number game The hill state has nearly 2.25 lakh serving personnel, retired officers, widows and veterans. There are 76 lakh total voters in state. According to records of Sainik Kalyan Evam Punarwas located in capital, till December 2016, there are 122,849 registered ex-servicemen and 39,345 widows. In addition, there are 300 veterans while 1,531 veteran widows. There are about 60,000 armed forces serving personnel. Dehradun has 22,576 retired personnel and 4,000 widows. With seven veterans and their 78 widows, it has the maximum concentration of ex-servicemen. It is followed by Pauri Garhwal district. The regiment centre of Garhwal Rifles-Lansdowne alone has 14,866 retired and 4,936 widows. …

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