Contesting for the first time from Nainital seat, Uttarakhand BJP president Ajay Bhatt is up against the All India Congress Committee general secretary Harish Rawat for the Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar Lok Sabha seat.
Although pitted against the former chief minister Harish Rawat, BJP state chief Ajay Bhatt seems to have gained an early advantage. As per estimates on the battle between the two political stalwarts, Bhatt is leading in the constituency.
The state BJP president, Ajay Bhatt had decided to contest from Nainital in the last minute after BJP veteran and Nainital MP Bhagat Singh Koshiyari opted out. Koshiyari had grasped the seat from the Congress stronghold in 2014, but chose to stay out of the fray this time to let the younger generation come forward.
Rawat, who termed himself an old "sewak" of the Constitution and democracy, is likely to face a tough fight against Bhatt, who is seen as promising young leader under whose leadership BJP stormed to power in Uttarakhand in 2017.
Earlier due to Rawat's taller political stature, the odds appeared stacked against the newcomer Bhatt. However, the backing of BJP Nainital MP Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who is campaigning aggressively for Bhatt seems to have given an edge to this younger rival.
According to Koshyari, Harish Rawat will be registering the biggest defeat of his political career this time.
Bhatt is primarily banking on Modi government's achievements during the last fives years to score over his rival. Bhatt has promised to give a boost to adventure tourism activities in the constituency, if elected to power, by reviving the water bodies and giving a fillip to water sports. He has also promised to revive the HMT factory at Ranibagh near Haldwani.
Rawat has highlighted public welfare measures taken during his tenure as the CM and promised to give active representation to people by raising state specific issues in Parliament. Rawat is fully confident of his victory and says he has a roadmap of development ready for his constituency.
However, both Bhatt and Rawat had lost the seats they had contested in the state Assembly elections held in 2017. Bhatt had lost from Ranikhet and Rawat from both Kichcha and Haridwar (rural) seats.