‘Royal’ touch to Tehri bypoll

Contest for the Tehri Garhwal Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant after Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna got elected to the state Assembly, is likely to get a royal touch. After losing to the Congress in the Assembly polls and failing to convince its MLA to vacate his Assembly seat for Mr Bahuguna, a desperate BJP is considering to field Rani Mala Rajlaxmi Shah of the royal family of Tehri in the bypolls. The Congress is likely to field CM’s wife Sudha Bahuguna.
Meanwhile, names of senior BJP leader Matbar Singh Kandari and former CM B.C. Khanduri are also being considered to challenge the Congress candidate.
Sources disclosed, Mr Khanduri is willing to contest the bypolls but will opt out if the CM’s wife contest. Mr Khanduri and Mr Bahuguna are first cousins. Both Mr Khanduri and Mr Kandari lost their seats in the Assembly polls held earlier this year.
However, the BJP wants Rani Mala Rajlaxmi Shah to contest the Tehri Garhwal bypolls. Her father-in-law, Maharaja Manvendra Shah, who had later joined the BJP, had represented the constituency for many years in Parliament and the family has a major influence in the region.
Sources disclosed the BJP leaders are trying to persuade Rani Mala Rajlaxmi Shah to contest the bypolls.
Though the CM’s wife is being considered to contest, names of senior Congress leaders from the state, including Kishore Upadhaya and S.S. Sajwan are also doing the rounds as probable candidates.
Both are considered close to Union minister Harish Rawat, whose loyalists had revolted when Mr Bahuguna’s name was announced to head the hill state.
After being nominated as the CM, Mr Bahuguna had to enter the state Assembly as per the norms. He won the Sitarganj bypolls by a record margin after the sitting BJP MLA resigned from his seat for the CM to contest.

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