Dehradun, Apr 16 (PTI) The Salt assembly constituency in Uttarakhand's Almora district is all set to go to poll on Saturday, with both Congress and BJP rating high their chances of a win. Bypoll to the seat was necessitated by the death of sitting BJP MLA from the seat Surendra Singh Jeena due to COVID-19 in November last year. The BJP has fielded Surendra's elder brother Mahesh Jeena from the seat in the hope of reaping the advantage of the sympathy wave generated by his sudden demise. The Congress has chosen to gamble once again on Ganga Pancholi who had given Surendra a tough fight in the 2017 assembly polls losing it by a narrow margin. While the BJP is banking heavily on the sympathy factor to retain the seat, the Congress expects a possible anti-incumbency to work in favour of its nominee. 'We are winning hands down. Surendra Singh Jeena made an extraordinary contribution to the development of the constituency as an MLA and people there are aware of it. It was in fact due to the love and respect he commanded among the people of his constituency that BJP fielded his elder brother from the seat, ' Pradesh BJP's chief spokesman Munna Singh Chauhan said when asked about the party's prospects in Salt. 'Apart from that the growing confidence in the leadership of Narendra Modi countrywide will work in favour of the party in Salt as well,' he said adding the party was going to win the seat with a huge margin. The mood in the Congress camp is also upbeat. 'We have an advantage over BJP as our candidate is an insider with a direct connect with people. She is a teacher with a homely image whereas the BJP nominee who runs a business in Delhi was not even a voter of this constituency until recently. His wife and children are still voters of Delhi. People have a feeling that he will become inaccessible after the poll,' PCC general secretary Vijay Saraswat said. The last day of electioneering for the seat on Thursday saw senior Congress leader Harish Rawat campaigning for Pancholi and Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat throwing his weight behind the BJP nominee by addressing a slew of election meetings in the constituency. Addressing one of the meetings Harish Rawat said by replacing its chief minister BJP had accepted its failure to deliver on the promises it had made to the people of the state in the 2017 assembly polls.
Noting that the problems of unemployment, migration and lack of development are still plaguing the constituency, he asked voters to give Pancholi who had a first hand knowledge of their problems a chance to serve them. Tirath Singh Rawat said Mahesh Jeena will accomplish the unfinished task of his younger brother and attributed all development initiatives taken in the constituency to the late MLA. He also said that Harish Rawat had represented Almora in the Lok Sabha but never paid heed to the real problems of the area. The fate of the BJP and Congress candidates will be known on May 2 when the bypoll results will be out but it is going to be a high stakes battle for the ruling BJP which seeks to retain it under a new chief minister and a new state BJP president. It is the first election being held in the state since Tirath Singh Rawat and Madan Kaushik took over as chief minister and Pradesh BJP president respectively last month. The bypoll outcome to be known on May 2 is also being seen as a curtain raiser on the Uttarakhand assembly elections that are due early next year. PTI ALM DV DV