Rattled by a string of rallies and meetings the BJP lined up in the Kumaon region, particularly in Almora, the home turf of chief minister Harish Rawat, the ruling Congress is now planning a counter attack to offset the onslaught.
To rejuvenate its workers ahead of the assembly polls due early next year, the state Congress is contemplating to approach the “high command” with a request to send either party president Sonia Gandhi or vice president Rahul Gandhi to campaign in the region.
Various leaders of the BJP, including its national president Amit Shah, Uttarakhand in-charge Shyam Jaju, national spokesperson Anil Baluni, and senior leader Satpal Maharaj, either held meetings or addressed rallies in Kumaon region, particularly Almora.
After the November 22 rally of Shah at Soban Singh Jeena Ground in Almora, the ruling party felt the need for a countermove, more so as the BJP president is scheduled to hold another rally in Haldwani on 7 December, according to Congress sources. Shah’s rally is expected to draw a “substantial crowd.”
The Congress is seeing the frequent visits of senior BJP leaders in the region as a strategy to corner it in Kumaon. After the failed attempt to dislodge Rawat’s government, the BJP roped in Congress legislator from Almora’s Someshwar constituency Rekha Arya.
General secretary of the state Congress Khazan Pandey said the party in Uttarakhand has two ‘star crowd pullers’ in Rawat and Uttarakhand Congress president Kishore Upadhyay. Apart from them, he said, top central leaders too will campaign in the state to “draw crowds and spread message of development.”
“Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi might visit Dehradun to address the Satat Vikas Yatra. Either he or a senior national leader might later visit Almora,” said Pandey. “We are in touch with the party high command for this,” he said.
Congress leader Sumit Hridyesh, who is also the chairperson of Haldwani Mandi Parishad, however tried to put up a brave front saying Shah’s rally in Almora was a “flop.”
But he added that party functionaries want some top leaders like Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi to visit the Kumaon region to enthuse party workers.