A truce in Uttarakhand Congress: Harish Rawat says he will lead party's poll campaign

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held frantic parleys on Friday and brought about a truce between warring factions in poll-bound Uttarakhand, with senior leader Harish Rawat who had declared a virtual revolt announcing that he would lead the party’s election campaign.

The party, however, made it clear that its chief ministerial candidate will be picked only after the election outcome.

It has been a bone of contention between various factions of the party.

The damage control exercise was led by Gandhi who met Rawat and other state leaders.

The meetings came two days after Rawat had declared a virtual rebellion, saying the leadership had abandoned him and he felt he had had enough.

Emerging from the meeting, the former Uttarakhand chief minister said, “We put our problems before the leadership and accept whatever decisions are taken by them. I will lead the party campaign in Uttarakhand elections.”

“Kadam kadam badhaye ja, Congress ke geet gaye ja (Keep marching ahead together, sings paeans to Congress),” he said, adding that he will continue to work for the welfare of Uttarakhand.

The Congress president has the special right to decide on the leader of the Congress Legislature Party after talking to elected legislators, Rawat said.

He said everyone honours that and will abide by the decision of the Congress president.

Gandhi also separately met state Congress chief Ganesh Godiyal, who supported Rawat in the ongoing factional war within the state unit.

Rawat, it is learnt, is keen to be projected as the chief ministerial face of the party, but Gandhi has said that the decision would be taken after the elections.

Gandhi also met AICC in-charge of Uttarakhand Devendra Yadav, with whom Rawat is reportedly not getting along well, and several other leaders, including Rajya Sabha MP Pradeep Tamta, Congress Legislature Party leader Pritam Singh, Yashpal Arya and former state unit chief Kishore Upadhyay.

It was made clear in the meeting that Congress president Sonia Gandhi will take a decision on who would be the chief minister after the elections if the party bags majority.

“We had a very successful meeting,” Yadav said and mentioned about the decision on the chief ministerial face.

Godiyal said an atmosphere as required by Rawat would be created and everyone would support him.

Uttarakhand goes to assembly polls early next year and the Congress is trying to return to power in the hill state.