Rawat’s battle is against BJP and his detractors

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Harish Rawat rose from the grassroots level and understands the state better than anyone in the Congress party. …reports Asian Lite News

The Congress in Uttarakhand seems to have the upper hand with BJP leaders joining the party in the state and now the party leaders are cautious and claiming stake for the top post. The Congress has appointed Harish Rawat as chairman of the campaign committee and he is spearheading the campaign. He is seen as the natural claimant for the top post if the party comes to power but he is being checkmated by his detractors in the party.

Now each group is looking suspiciously at the other group, each political move is being monitored by the other side keenly but Rawat has got the upper hand in the first round with the suspension of Kishore Upadhayaya and creating hurdles in Harak Singh Rawat’s joining the party, though he has joined but not with fanfare. Rawat says, “the party has decided so he has no problem”. But when asked about the post-election scenario, he said: “My focus right now is that the Congress wins the election.”

The veteran in Uttarakhand politics knows that each political move by other groups may create hurdles post-election so, sources say, he has already reached out to probable dissenters and has sought their support. But sources say he is fighting a twin battle — with the BJP and within the party. The outburst on social media was a reflection of the inter-party problems which he was facing at that time, and the party was compelled to resolve the matter, but the road ahead is not so smooth after the polls.

The other group led by a former state president is also not going to leave any stone unturned as the detractors are lobbying hard with the AICC office bearers. The group led by Preetam Singh is not putting up a straight challenge but will wait for any opportunity to strike back.

But Rawat has the trust and confidence of Sonia Gandhi knowing his capability, the party workers have sympathy as he missed the bus of Chief Ministership twice — once to N.D. Tiwari and then to Vijay Bahuguna, however he was later brought in replacing Bahuguna.

Harish Rawat rose from the grassroots level and understands the state better than anyone in the Congress party. He says “we will focus on local issues” as he knows that the BJP doesn’t want to come into the arena on the basis of performance but on emotive issues.

The problem with the party is that it does not have any leader who is acceptable to both the Garhwal and Kumaon regions after the passing away of ND Tiwari and Indira Hridyesh.

The state has two significant regions. Rawat is capable of balancing both, a party veteran said and also he has good acceptability among the minority population in the plains.

Why Rawat is key for Congress

The Congress though has maintained till now that it will not declare anyone as a candidate for Chief Minister’s post in Uttarakhand but it can’t ignore Harish Rawat, the tallest leader in the state and under whose leadership the party is going to contest the polls as party insiders say that without the former Chief Minister the Congress may not be able to fight the BJP.

Since the formation of the state, Rawat has missed the bus of Chief Ministership twice — once to N.D. Tiwari and then to Vijay Bahuguna, however he was later brought in replacing Bahuguna.

Called “Harda” Rawat, Harish Rawat is perceived as a fighter with ‘never give up’ attitude. Rising from the grassroots level he understands the state better than anyone in Congress party. He says “we will focus on local issues” as he knows that BJP doesn’t want to come into the arena on the basis of performance but on emotive issues.

Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi knows his capability and that is why when he raised some issues it was resolved in no time, and now on the Harak Singh Rawat issue, it’s him who has stalled the process and sources say that workers are happy with his decision. The suspension of Kishore Upadhaya is another example that the leadership is giving importance to his advice and suggestions.

The Party does not have any leader who is acceptable to both the Garwhal and Kumaon region and since the state has two significant regions, Rawat is capable of balancing both, a party veteran said.

Rawat, a veteran in politics, pitches himself against the BJP and does not consider incumbent Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami as an opponent. He says it’s him vs the BJP. Listing local issues which are being highlighted by the Congress, he says, “unemployment is the biggest issue in Uttarakhand, and other issues are — law and order, inflation, misgovernance, indiscriminate mining. Health and medical infrastructure has collapsed in the state, this is also a big issue.

When Rawat got upset with micro interference by Devendra Yadav, Incharge of Uttarakhand Congress, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra stepped in and spoke to him followed by meeting with Rahul Gandhi.

Before the meeting, Rawat had said, “it’s time to rest, it has been enough.”

“Is this not strange? When we have to swim in the sea of election, the party organisation should extend supporting hand, but has rather turned its face the other way and is playing a negative role. I have to swim in the sea where the ruling party has released many crocodiles and my hands and legs are tied,” he had said.

The Uttarakhand Congress is mired in factionalism with Preetam Singh leading a group backed by some in AICC, Rawat’s supporters allege.

BJP and Congress. (File Photo: IANS)

Cong releases first list of 53 candidates in U’khand

The Congress has released its first list of candidates for the Uttarakhand Assembly polls, and has named party’s state chief Ganesh Godiyal and legislature party leader (CLP) Preetam Singh in the list.

The Congress has given tickets to father-son duo — Yashpal Arya and Sanjeev Arya, who defected from the BJP. They have been given tickets from Nainital and Bajpur while former Minister Nav Prabhat has been given ticket from Vikasnagar. Sumit Hridyesh has been given ticket from Haldwani.

But former Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s name has not been declared in the first list and there is no clarity whether he will contest polls or not.

The candidates for the prominent seats include: Purola – S.C. Malchand; Yamunotri – Deepak Bijalwan; Gangotri – Vijaypal Singh Sajwan; Badrinath – Rajendra Singh Bhandari; Tharali – SC Dr. Jeet Ram; Karnprayag — Mukesh Singh Negi; Kedarnath – Manoj Rawat; Rudraprayag – Pradeep Thapliyal; Ghanshali – SC Dhani Lal Shah; Deoprayag – Mantri Prasad Naithani; Pratapnagar – Vikram Singh Negi; Pirankaliyar – Mohd Furkan Ahmad; Manglore – Qazi Mohd Nizamuddin.

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