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Harish Rawat seems to be Congress's man of the hour in Uttarakhand

January 17, 2022 19:20 IST

Opinion polls by a section of the media channels have stated that Harish Rawat is the most liked politician for the post of chief minister, way ahead of Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
Shishir Prashant reports.

IMAGE: Congress leader Harish Rawat speaks to media-persons in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI Photo

Harish Rawat, election campaign chief of the Uttarakhand unit of the Congress and former chief minister, has promised to keep the price of a gas cylinder below Rs 600 if his party comes to power in the state.

He has also pledged free electricity and water.


Sensing a close fight with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the coming assembly election, Rawat has set the ball rolling, creating ripples in the ruling camp.

This incarnation of Rawat is different from the one in 2002, when he was sidelined by the party high command to pave the way for his bête noire, N D Tiwari, to become chief minister after the first assembly election in the hill state.

Rawat is now a reformed person. He is party general secretary and Congress Working Committee member, no longer a person to be trifled with.

He has his formula for defeating the BJP, which he is offering the central brass for winning power at the Centre.

"Before Narendra Modi became prime minister, the BJP leadership in the states was very strong. We must follow this model to dethrone the BJP in New Delhi," Rawat has repeatedly stated this on various platforms.

Despite the shock defeat of the Congress in the 2017 assembly election, where the party got just 11 seats in the 70-member House, Rawat has managed to remain at the forefront of the organisation.

His supporters say his popularity is intact, which is making state BJP leaders worried.

Conscious that he is in full command now, Rawat is playing his cards carefully, keeping in view that the anti-incumbency factor against the ruling BJP may win the Congress power this time.

His recent tantrums portend that: They are moves to push his remaining adversaries in the state Congress to the wall and stay in clear contention in the race to become the next chief minister.

Party observers say the group led by the Leader of the Opposition, Pritam Singh, and person in charge of the party, Devender Yadav, is the only hurdle in Rawat's way now.

Most of Rawat's rivals like Satpal Maharaj and Vijay Bahuguna have left the party.

Indira Hridayesh, who was also a known opponent, died last year.

Rawat is also not terribly inclined to let Uttarakhand Forest Minister Harak Singh Rawat rejoin the Congress.

But Yadav wants his early re-entry. A decision on the matter is pending.

Rawat's recent tweet that his hands were tied by 'some crocodiles' was a thoughtfully crafted statement to send a strong message to the high command that he means business when it comes to handling the state unit's affairs.

Opinion polls by a section of the media channels have stated that he is the most liked politician for the post of chief minister, way ahead of Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.

However, some opinion polls say the BJP would retain power.

But within the Congress, some like former state chief Kishore Upadhaya are sulking and saying Rawat must not 'crush' the Garhwali leadership.

"You can't fight alone. Rawat must understand this and take Garhwali Congress leaders into confidence," said Upadhaya.

There is also speculation that Rawat may not contest the election after his shocking defeat in both the seats from where he had contested in 2017.

On the other hand, he is seeking three tickets for his family members, including his two sons and a daughter, which has put the party high command in an awkward position.

Party leaders like Yadav and Upadhaya are opposing this.

The entry of the Aam Aadmi Party into the poll fray has alerted both the BJP and Congress.

There are different views on this issue, with the BJP and Congress saying the party will not dent their vote share in the election.

But independent observers say the AAP will damage Congress slightly more than it will do to the BJP.

While BJP targets bagging more than 60 seats this time, the Congress on the other hand remains bullish.

"Till the final distribution of tickets, it is difficult to predict what the outcome will be," said Manju Singh R, an independent observer.

Shishir Prashant in Dehradun
Source: source image