A high-voltage fight for supremacy seems to be raging in the Uttarakhand Congress.
A group of Congress leaders held a press conference at Haldwani on Saturday to declare that the All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and former Uttarakhand chief minister, Harish Rawat, would be the party’s face in the next state Assembly elections in 2022. These state Congress leaders included Rajya Sabha member Pradeep Tamta and other supporters of Rawat.
Even in the 2017 state Assembly polls, Rawat, the then incumbent CM, was the Congress’s face, with the party then choosing to fight the polls under his leadership. The Congress had then made an appeal to state voters to provide a full five-year term to Rawat again.
However, that appeal failed to woo the voters and the Congress suffered the worst-ever defeat in Assembly elections in Uttarakhand by getting reduced to 11 seats. Rawat also failed miserably to save himself and lost from both the seats that he had contested.
The Saturday press conference is being looked at as a “pressure tactic” being applied by Rawat’s supporters. The infighting in the Uttarakhand Congress is growing now, with the rival camps of Rawat and Uttarakhand Congress president Pritam Singh being at loggerheads.
Rawat also seems to be losing his cool, seeking to share his “anguish” on social media. Hitting out at his rivals within the state Congress for asking him to retire from politics, the veteran leader made a sarcastic remark, stating that “I am thankful to the kids who are making me count the elections I have lost. Some of these warriors learned a few lessons at RSS classes and are applying the theories to me. They took birth when I had lost the first election and was getting ready to fight the next polls. Some bluff masters, who never contest ward elections, are making me count my election defeats.”
In its reaction to the Saturday press conference held by the Rawat faction, the Pritam Singh camp sought to downplay it while claiming that the Uttarakhand Congress was “united” and that each election is contested by the party under someone’s leadership. By going ahead with such a press conference, the Rawat camp might have taken its rival group by surprise. This is, however, likely to fuel infighting in the Uttarakhand Congress in the coming days.