Sunday 23 January 2022
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Uttarakhand Congress unravels

While Harish Rawat insisted twice this week he was not quitting the INC, the internal feud in Uttarakhand Congress is far from over, the party's factions show

After the acrimony in Punjab Congress preceded by the Rajasthan episode in the party and Madhya Pradesh before that, the high command of the Indian National Congress (INC) today summoned its Uttarakhand leaders Harish Rawat, Pritam Singh, Ganesh Godiyal, Kishore Upadhyay and other frontline leaders to Delhi for a meeting with Rahul Gandhi, as differences in the state unit have come out in the open barely two months before the assembly in the state.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand Congress Committee had also postponed all-party level meetings and programmes on the instructions of the state president of the party, Godiyal.

Rahul Gandhi met former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Rawat in Delhi today after the latter gave a clear indication of his displeasure to the party high command by tweeting that he had his “hands tied” ahead of the state assembly election.

Sources said that the leadership wanted to assure Rawat that he was the face of the party in the state and would, therefore, enjoy full cooperation from the high command. Before leaving for Delhi, Rawat had praised the party, in an apparent reconciliatory move, describing himself as a party loyalist who had dedicated his life to the state. He said, “In every step, one must sing paeans to the Congress. My life is for Uttarakhand; it should be spent on Uttarakhand.”

After the meeting, former Chief Minister Harish Rawat said that I will lead the election, but who will be the Chief Minister will be decided only after the elections.

Rawat had met also his supporters at a function in Haridwar, paying tribute to former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh on his birth anniversary. Earlier, Rawat had expressed displeasure over not getting a free hand in Uttarakhand and not getting cooperation from other members of his party.

In a thread on Twitter, Rawat wrote, “Is it not strange that when the challenge of ​​elections must be met, the organisation’s structure meant for cooperation is either turning its back on me instead of extending the hand of cooperation in most places or playing a negative role. In the sea in which we ought to swim, one encounters a lot of crocodiles. The representatives of those on whose orders I have to swim are tying my hands and feet. Many times a thought crosses my mind, Harish Rawat, you had had enough, swam a lot, now it’s time for rest!”

In the next tweet, Rawat wrote, “Then secretly a voice rises from a corner of my mind, ‘na dainyam na palayanam‘ (Sanskrit saying that implies ‘neither betraying the pitiful state one is in nor fleeing from the situation’) I am then in a state of great euphoria. May the new year show the way. I believe that Lord Kedarnath (Shiva) will, in this situation, guide me.”

Before the tweets and after the meeting with Rahul Gandhi, however, Rawat has maintained that he is not leaving the INC.

Rawat is a member of the Congress Working Committee and he is being seen as the face of the party in the Uttarakhand assembly election.

Former Punjab Chief Minister and Captain Amarinder Singh, who recently broke away from the INC and formed his party, took a jibe at Rawat’s tweet, saying, “What you sow, so shall you reap. Best wishes (if any) for your endeavours, Harish Rawat ji.”

INC leader from Punjab Manish Tewari had tweeted on l’affaire de Harish Rawat: “First Assam, then Punjab, now Uttarakhand…”

Tewari has been targeting the new leaders of INC high command and Punjab Congress president Navjot Sidhu for the past several months.

It was under Rawat’s charge that Punjab Congress went into turmoil until he was relieved as the man in charge of Punjab and Chandigarh on 22 October when Harish Chaudhary took over the job.

Uttarakhand government in the meantime

Meanwhile, in the ruling dispensation of Uttarakhand, a meeting of the state cabinet is being held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. The state government is expected to get cabinet approvals for several projects and policy measures.

The cabinet meeting is going to start at 7 PM in the Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali auditorium of Vishwakarma Bhawan located in the secretariat.

The Uttarakhand government of the BJP may decide on important issues of health, agriculture and national parks. A proposal to lease out national parks and declare that gardeners who have served in the horticulture department will be deemed trained will come up in the cabinet meeting.

The Uttarakhand government may take many decisions in the health sector beyond the measures necessary to tackle the Omicron wave of the China-origin coronavirus.

Dhami had earlier reacted to Rawat’s ‘rebellion’, saying it was an “internal matter” of the INC while also making the point that “many types of gangs are active in the Congress. This includes Harish Rawat, Leader of Opposition Pritam Singh and the faction led by the man in charge of Uttarakhand Congress, Devendra Yadav faction.

Singh avoided saying anything about Rawat’s Twitter thread, commenting, “Such things keep happening in the party.” He reiterated that the INC would fight the 2022 under the leadership of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and would “definitely” register a victory.

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