Barring Jammu and Kashmir where terrorism remains the major issue for any meaningful election strategy, the two other northern-most hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand -- have already been through a roller coaster with BJP's overwhelming presence in every corner. But Congress is keen to turn around the tables the way BJP did in the last elections.
Taking up Uttarakhand, where the elections will be held on April 11, the five Lok Sabha seats -- Tehri, Pauri-Garhwal, Almora (reserved), Nainital and Haridwar -- have all sitting MPS of BJP, though some of them may be retired or refused the ticket this time. Moreover, some erstwhile Congress leaders have joined the ranks of BJP bringing along the baggage with them.
With a total of 76,28,526 voters, Uttarakhand has 88,000 Fauzi votes that had consistently gone in favour of former major general BC Khanduri, who represented Pauri-Garhwal. Since the aged leader, who was close to AB Vajpayee, wished to keep away from the contest this time, it is likely that BJP may look for a veteran leader in the area.
Unlike the 2014 poll scenario, BJP may face challenge in the state in view of visibly acute anti-incumbency factor. Despite being in the ruling position both at the state and the Centre, the creation of jobs in the state remained a non-starter, leaving developmental works to blueprints still. Yet, BJP is hoping to harp on its narrative "nationalism", coupled with national security issue in the wake of recent Balakot bombing.
The Opposition, to be precise, the Congress Party may raise questions on missing the target in Pakistan to Abhinandan's capture and his release by Imran Khan. Above all, Congress is hoping that the issue of unemployment and poor development in the state would return to election meetings.
How the Congress Party highlights the issue of no jobs in the state to providing more sops to farmers will decided the vote division in the state. On its part, BJP may cite cross-border strikes and some recent hill tourism projects it has undertaken in the state. Since the poll date in Uttarakhand leaves not much room for either of the two major parties, it is likely to be a divided verdict in the state.