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Dehra Dun: B C Khanduri vs T P S Rawat

By BS Regional Bureau
May 10, 2004 16:14 IST
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Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Major General (retd) B C Khanduri, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from the Pauri-Garhwal seat, is locked in a fierce contest with Lieutenant General (retd) T P S Rawat of the Congress.

Rawat, at present, holds the tourism portfolio of Uttaranchal.

Khanduri has thrice won from this seat, defeating Congress leader Satpal Maharaj each time. But Maharaj withdrew from the contest this time and instead fielded his close confidante Rawat.

Rawat is hoping to get the maximum number of votes from the hilly regions of the state. He has been raising several emotive issues during his campaign, including the non-development of villages, and has blamed the National Democratic Alliance government for the poor state of affairs here.

In the 1999 Lok Sabha election, Khanduri got overwhelming support from the residents of Dehra Dun.

Khanduri had polled 57,000 votes, which was 12,000 more than what Maharaj had managed to poll. Nevertheless, the Congress has gone all out to woo voters in Dehra Dun this time.

The BJP considers the contest for the Pauri seat a prestige issue as Khanduri has been responsible for the India Shining campaign, launched early this year by the NDA government.

"We will fight to the finish, to ensure Khanduri's victory," said Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, president of the state unit of the BJP. 

The electoral campaign between Rawat and Khanduri has been turned into a 'battle of the generals', with the Congress claiming that its candidate is the better of the two since a Lieutenant General ranks higher than a Major General.

"Our general is obviously the bigger of the two," Surendra Kumar, the ruling Congress spokesman, said.

However, Rawat himself is desisting from giving his campaign the 'big general vs small general' spin.

Khanduri also dismissed it as a cheap political stunt, and said he would not enter into any such 'slanging match'.

In its campaign, the Congress has targeted ex-servicemen, who form a sizeable chunk of the electorate in this constituency. The party has also roped in several leaders of ex-servicemen groups to campaign for it.

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