New Delhi: The internal differences in Uttarakhand Congress, that have cropped up just days before the February 2022 Assembly elections, have been resolved for now after the interference of Congress leadership on Friday.
The differences that were being played out behind the curtains in the hill state, where the Congress is reportedly in a strong position to come back to power, came out in open on Wednesday afternoon after one of the state’s tallest leaders and former CM, Harish Rawat, in a series of two tweets made his displeasure public and indicated that he was facing troubles and challenges from within. As was intended, immediately, senior Uttarakhand party leaders and Rawat were asked to come to Delhi by the party leadership. The 73-year-old Rawat, as per sources close to him, was upset with the “excess interference” of AICC in-charge of the state, the 49-year-old Devender Yadav, who was appointed on the said post in September 2020. Party leaders owing allegiance to Rawat said that Yadav, who is close to senior party leader and Uttarakhand screening committee incharge Avinash Pandey and party general secretary Randeep Surjewala, had become a part of anti-Rawat group that also has leader of opposition, Pritam Singh and state Congress president Ganesh Godiyal, who also consider themselves as fit for the CM’s chair.
On Friday, while addressing the media after meeting the party’s de-facto president Rahul Gandhi, Rawat said that he has been asked to lead the party’s campaign in the state. Under the agreement brokered between the two groups, both Rawat and Yadav will get equal space and Yadav will ensure that Rawat is not ignored during ticket selection and other similar exercises.
According to the other camp, the party leadership made it clear that Rawat will not get a “free-hand” in selecting candidates for the election. A party leader close to party president Sonia Gandhi said that the possibility of party replicating the 2005 Haryana election model, when Bhajan Lal handled the campaigned, but the party appointed Bhupinder Singh Hooda as the CM post the election result, cannot be ruled out in the case the party wins in Uttarakhand in February.
“One needs to understand that Rawat, due to his stature and experience, gets to know political conspiracies against him happening inside Uttarakhand even if it is being done secretly. Secondly, if a relatively junior politician tries to do what Yadav was doing, naturally anyone of the standing of Rawat will get upset,” a party leader close to Rawat said while stating that Yadav took away the mike from Rawat when he was speaking during the rally of Rahul Gandhi in Dehradun on 16 December and that “impediments” were created to ensure that Rawat does not share a stage with Rahul Gandhi.
As has been a trend in Congress leader’s way of doing politics, soon after the tweets by Rawat, documents showing alleged criminal cases pending against Yadav were shared anonymously with journalists. The documents also claimed that Yadav had grabbed lands across Delhi and that he was trying to “sell” 35 party tickets in Uttarakhand. All these accusations have been vehemently denied by sources close to Yadav who termed it as an exercise being taken by his political adversaries to dent his image and hurt the party’s prospect in Uttarakhand.
While speaking to The Sunday Guardian on Thursday night, Yadav said that there was no difference between him and Rawat and he had spoken to Rawat at least thrice after the alleged incident where Rawat’s posters were removed from Rahul Gandhi’s rally. “He never told me about any such thing. If anything like this has really happened, these are small things, and that should not affect the working relations. If someone is getting upset over such trivial incidents, then that is very immature on part of that person. Posters get moved here and there during such rallies. He is the senior most leader of the party in the state, we respect him, he is the chairman of the campaign committee. We only work after taking senior leaders into confidence. As far as the issue of ticket distribution is concerned, there is no problem,” Yadav, who has been a two-time MLA from Badli seat in North-West Delhi after winning the 2008 and 2013 elections, said.