New Delhi: The Congress high command may have intervened to placate former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, but the faction fighting has come out in the open in the poll-bound hill state. After his meeting with Congress former president Rahul Gandhi, Rawat on Friday said that he would be leading the Congress campaign in Uttarakhand. In fact, Rawat tried to send out a message that everything has been resolved.
But it is too early to say that the infighting has subsided, as nothing seems to have been done to change the organizational functioning in the hill state. Rawat posted some cryptic tweets signaling another crisis for the Congress after Punjab. Rawat actually expressed anguish over the increasing factionalism in the state unit of the party. The state in-charge Devender Yadav and Harish Rawat will continue to work like before.
So, all this suggests that the Congress is facing problems in Uttarakhand. With Punjab not giving any good news for Congress, if it loses state polls then the crisis for it will be bigger. A possible alliance between former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh and BJP may spell trouble for Congress. Of all the five states going to polls in next two months, Punjab and Uttarakhand are the only states where the Congress has some hopes. But the party’s position in both the states is like that of Kerala and Assam. If the Congress loses both the states it will mean that no state will be coming to its kitty in 2022. The grand old party is not even in the fight in Goa, UP and Manipur. Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh will be going to polls after these states and the Congress will find it difficult to win there. Observers believe that with Congress facing defeats like this, the BJP will get a shot in the arm for its “Congress-mukt Bharat” mission.
With this being the case, Rahul Gandhi’s appointment as Congress president will bring him problems. In fact, the Uttarakhand developments are being attributed to the working style of Rahul Gandhi and his team. They did not learn their lesson from defeats in Bihar, Assam and Kerala. Rahul Gandhi is still in the habit of doing political experiments bang before the elections. He did the same in Assam, Kerala and Bihar where factionalism intensified leading to Congress’ debacle. Rahul Gandhi is not ready to understand that elections cannot be won only by targeting PM Modi. He is bent upon doing that.
With the party’s existence in jeopardy, Rahul goes on experimenting. He changed Punjab CM just a few months ahead of assembly elections, resulting in a split in the party. Congress in Uttarakhand is also on the brink of a split. Leaders are getting demoralized in such a situation. If a split happens, then an exodus will start, with the BJP and the TMC waiting to welcome the turncoats. TMC is already looking for a well-known face and Rawat could suit its plan. At the same time, the BJP may get Amarinder Singh to float his party in Uttarakhand as well.
The Congress high command will face more problems when ticket allocation happens and CM face is finalized. To add to this, Harish Rawat’s supporters are getting aggressive. In fact, Rawat’s complaint is that he was not allowed to be in the leadership role in Uttarakhand till ND Tiwari was active. After this, the 2002 assembly polls were fought under Rawat’s leadership but ND Tiwari was appointed CM, despite the fact that Tiwari was against creation of Uttarakhand. Again, Vijay Bahuguna was given the CM post in 2012. When Rawat got a chance to lead, he started sidelining leaders close to N.D. Tiwari and the then PCC chief Kishore Upadhyaya’s supporters as well. As a CM Rawat won Rahul’s confidence. But he could not save the party from splitting before the 2017 elections. Rawat lost elections on two seats. Only a few leaders including Rawat remained in the Congress then. Rawat was given responsibility at the central level but he remained obsessed with Uttarakhand. Rawat pledged to work hard to help Rahul Gandhi to become PM in 2024. He also angered Amarinder Singh understandably at the instance of Rahul. But despite all this Rawat was not announced CM face, and this hurts him the most. Rahul sent him to Uttarakhand but did not announce him as the party’s CM candidate. In a setback to Rawat, Rahul during his Dehradun rally told leaders to ensure Congress’ win first, then only he will decide on CM face. State in-charge Devendra Yadav, and screening committee head Avinash Pandey also stated that CM will be decided after polls. What also did not go down well with Rawat was that former PCC chief Kishore Upadhyaya was seen on dais with Rahul. This despite the speculation that Kishore will leave the party. Both the CLP leader Pritam Singh and Kishore Upadhyaya are Rawat’s adversaries. The message was that all those against Rawat are now united and the former CM has been isolated. Devender Yadav started leading this faction. So, Rawat tweeted the message expressing displeasure. Rawat’s tweet was also seen as part of his pressure politics. Sources say Rawat wants Devender Yadav to go. Yadav, who is close to Rahul\ Gandhi’s core team member Randeep Singh Surjewala, would not want Rawat to be CM candidate. Rahul believes that the Congress is going to form a government in Uttarakhand. He wants such a leader to be as CM who could be at his beck and call. Rawat is said to have realized that he would not be given the top post if Congress forms government. So, he posted a message like that that is being seen as a challenge to Rahul Gandhi’s team.
As of now, BJP is ahead of Congress due to PM Modi’s popularity. Now, the BJP will try to derive mileage out of what is happening in the Congress. If the situation worsens and Rawat announces retirement then the Congress will be in more trouble. AAP is already toiling to replace Congress in Uttarakhand.