Ruling BJP and main opposition party Congress are the two main stakeholders in Uttarakhand assembly election. Both the parties have been predominant in the state politics since November 2000 when the new state of Uttaranchal was carved out of Uttar Pradesh. Later, the state was renamed as Uttarakhand in 2007. The 70-member state assembly was first dominated by the BJP government since 1999 to 2002 while the Congress remained in power from 2002 to 2007. After 2007 state elections, the BJP formed its government for the second time by joining hands with Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD).

Political identity of Uttarakhand
The fight for the political identity of Uttarakhand began with the agitation led by the ruler of Tehri, Manvendra Shah. Later, after the independence, Tehri was merged with the Uttar Pradesh. In 1973 Uttarakhand Rajya Parishad began its struggle for separate statehood of the region. This led to emergence of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) in 1979 which was led by former vice chancellor of Kumaun University Dr DD Pant. Jaswant Singh Bisht was the first member of UKD to be elected to UP assembly in 1980.
In 1985 elections, Kashi Singh Eree became the second representative of the party in the UP assembly.

Dominance of BJP
The BJP has been in favour of small states since beginning because it saw them (small states) as the engines of regional development of the country. This outlook of the BJP earned it mass support in the regions like- Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh- where mass movements were being carried out for the creation of separate states out of existing UP, Bihar and MP respectively. The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh passed a proposal to this effect in the state assembly recommending creation of Uttaranchal (later renamed as Uttarakhand) and sent it to the Centre for its approval.

The BJP government headed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2000 paving the way for the creation of the new state of Uttaranchal in November, the same year.

As the BJP had majority of assembly seats falling in the region which formed the new state, naturally the party got power when the new assembly was set up.  Senior BJP leader Nityanand Swami was handed over the baton of power by the party leadership to lead the new government who served as the first Chief Minister of the state from November 9, 2000 to October 29, 2001.  Swamy was later replaced by another senior BJP leader of the state, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.

First assembly elections
The first assembly elections in Uttarakhand were held in 2002. It was the Indian National Congress (INC) which emerged victorious after the elections were held and power in the state was shifted from BJP to its adversary Congress. Contesting all the 70 seats, the Congress had captured 36 seats with 26.91 percent of vote share.  Contesting 69 seats, BJP won 19 seats with 25.81 percent of vote share. Patriarch of state Congress Narayan Dutt Tiwari was appointed as the third Chief Minister of the state.
Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) which spearheaded the movement for the creation of the separate state won only four out of 70 seats.  In electoral politics of the state, UKD’s performance has been very dismal owing to several instances of split within it.

Coalition politics
The second assembly elections changed the contours of Uttarakhand politics. Neither the Congress nor the BJP could get majority in 2007 assembly elections. The BJP emerged as the largest party with 35 seats, just two short of majority with 31.90 percent of the vote share. However, the BJP struck alliance with the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) and three independents to return to power. The Congress had won only 21 seats. It got 29.50 percent of the votes. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won 8 seats and got 11.76 percent votes. BJP leader and former Union Minister in the Vajpayee government BC Khanduri became Chief Minister of the state in 2007. However, the Congress bagged all five Lok Sabha seats in the next general election in mid 2009.

CM reshuffle circus
The abrupt change of Chief Ministers by BJP became a common phenomenon when then Chief Minister BC Khanduri was replaced by his Cabinet colleague Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in 2009 and later Nishank was again replaced by Kahnduri in 2011. Sources in the BJP say Kahnduri was in favour of Nishank as his successor. Barring the 2002 elections, Nishank continuously has a record of winning elections earlier to the Uttar Pradesh assembly and later to the Uttarakhand assembly since 1991.He was also the first Finance Minister of Uttarakhand.

Sensing the dismal performance of Pokhriyal as CM and eying the assembly elections in 2012, the BJP high command decided to replace Nishank by former Chief Minister Khanduri. In 2007, Khanduri had faced stiff opposition from another former Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari camp when he had majority of newly elected BJP MLAs in his favour. But, both Khanduri and Koshiyari sunk their differences and joined hands in what turned out to be a concerted campaign against Nishank.