Uttarakhand Congress a divided house over CM face

By Express News Service
DEHRADUN: Factionalism in the Congress unit in Uttarakhand has reared its head again, with the rival camps of former chief minister Harish Rawat and Leader of Opposition Indira Hridayesh vying for the lead role in the state election.

Uttarakhand goes to poll in 2022. Of the total 70 Assembly seats, the ruling BJP has 56 seats while the Congress has got 11. Lobbying has started in the Congress, with Rawat recently demanding that the party should announce its CM face. Rawat found support from former Assembly speaker Gobind Singh Kunjwal. The Congress veteran even tweeted Devendra Yadav, Uttarakhand in charge of the party, requesting him to announce the CM candidate.

But, the Indira Hridayesh camp assert their leader managed to hold her constituency Haldwani in 2017 despite a strong Modi wave which felled Harish Rawat in Haridwar-Rural and Kichcha. “Indiraji was able to maintain her stronghold even at the peak of the Modi wave which swept Uttar Pradesh with over 300 seats and with more than 50 seats out of 70-member Assembly in Uttarakhand. She must be the party face as she has an image of strong leader and has ample experience,” said one of her aides. 

While PCC vice-president Suryakant Dhasmana maintained that the party will contest as a single unit, his senior Pritam Singh chose not to comment on the matter. ex-CM is unlikely to keep a low profile, as Dehradun-based political commentator Jay Singh Rawat observed, given that he has managed to etch out a space in the national politics despite his setback in 2017. “The party high command has made him a general secretary of the party and given key responsibilities such as Punjab,” he said.