Uttarakhand: ‘Blessings of saints’ hold great importance for candidates on Haridwar and Garhwal seats

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Dehradun: Being an epicenter of religious activities, Haridwar and Rishikesh has numerous temples, monasteries and 13 Akharas of saints where more than 50,000 votes belong to saints residing here. These votes hold a great importance for the candidates who are trying their luck in Haridwar and Garhwal (includes some parts of Rishikesh) parliamentary constituencies. Therefore, the candidates in the fray, are trying to take the blessings of the saints in Haridwar to strengthen the possibilities of their win.

The blessings of saints are important for all the candidates staking their claim from these seats

More than 50 thousand voters in Haridwar and Rishikesh are ‘Sadhus’ (saints) who are associated with temples, ashrams, Akharas and other religious institutions. Considering the value of these votes, the candidates from various political parties embark on the election campaigning after taking blessings of these saints. These votes hold more importance when the reputation of two former chief ministers is at stake on the Haridwar seat.

There are 13 Akharas in Haridwar

Akhara is a place of religious practice with facilities for boarding, lodging and training, both in the context of Indian martial artists or a sampradaya monastery in Guru–shishya tradition. In Haridwar Lok Sabha seat, there are 13 akharas where a large percentage of saints reside. Moreover, Haridwar and Rishikesh are two assembly constituencies in Haridwar Lok Sabha seat, where a large number of voters associated with ashrams and akharas mark their strong presence. In the assembly constituencies of Haridwar parliamentary seat, like Roorkee, Haridwar Rural, Doiwala, there is a significant presence of saints.

Muni ki Reti and Swargashram are also important on Garhwal parliamentary seat

Not only Haridwar but the parts of Garhwal constituency also have strong presence of ‘Sadhu’ votes. In Garhwal parliamentary seat, Munikireti, Tapovan area of Narendranagar assembly and Swargashram and Laxmanjhula area of Yamkeshwar assembly are also big strongholds of saints and sages. Here too, thousands of religious institutions, Akharas and temples have thousands of votes of saints. Therefore, this area also remains important for the candidates on Garhwal parliamentary seat.

Candidates try to woo these ‘Sadhus’ votes

Being a center of Hinduism, it doesn’t mean that all akharas and sadhu votes go in the account of a particular party. Interestingly, the votes of saints are divided most of the time due to their own politics related to Akharas and other political allegiances. So, the political parties try hard to take these saints in their favour to win the electoral battle.

There has been lobbying to give tickets to saints

Various akharas have been lobbying to field the saints from Haridwar constituency but political parties have not shown much interest. Barring a few exceptions, generally the political parties did not give any preference to the saints in the matter of giving tickets. Despite having a big vote bank, the saints and sages of Haridwar seat could not show any special feat in the elections, when given tickets.

A few saints remained successful in winning elections

In Haridwar, there has been a presence of saints contesting elections and registering win but their number is comparatively very low when it comes to the presence of saints’ voters in the constituency. There is a list of saints who faced defeat in elections. Firstly, Swami Sundar Das, an Akhara saint, contested the assembly elections, but faced defeat. After this, Swami Yatindranand, Satpal Brahmachari, Brahmaswaroop Brahmachari had to face defeat in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Only Jagdish Muni was elected MLA from Haridwar in the wave of Ram Mandir movement. Swami Yatishwarananda from BJP was successful in winning the assembly in 2017 but he was defeated by Congress’ Anupma Rawat in 2022.

BJP candidates Trivendra Singh Rawat and Anil Baluni took the blessings of saints

BJP candidate from Haridwar parliamentary seat Trivendra Singh Rawat and BJP candidate from Garhwal parliamentary seat Anil Baluni have jointly started their election campaign by approaching the saints based in Haridwar, Rishikesh and Garhwal’s Muni-ki-Reti area. Last week, Trivendra Rawat and Anil Baluni took blessings by performing Ganga Aarti in the company of saints.

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