With chief minister Harish Rawat withdrawing from the Lok Sabha race on account of his elevation as the chief minister, the Congress is in a bit of a fix over finding a replacement for the Haridwar LS seat represented by him.
With Rawat making it clear that he wanted either his daughter Anupama or wife Renuka as the Haridwar candidate, Congress does not seem to have much of a leeway in pushing another candidate, perhaps with more experience and perceived winnablity than the Rawats, for the seat.
It is important for the Congress to win this seat. Rawat has been representing Haridwar and if his choice loses from there this time, it is certain to weaken his position in the fractious state leadership of the Congress.
Afterall, Congress had seen what happened to Saket, the son of former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, in the 2012 parliamentary by-election from Tehri. He fought against BJP’s Mala Rajyalaxmi Shah and lost the election.
Therefore, the CM camp is working on a two-pronged strategy to ensure the victory of the Congress candidate - one is to reach out to the voters through pada yatras and the other is to win over leaders of other groups with substantial influence.
The party has kicked off pada yatras and door-to-door campaigns across the parliamentary segment, which stretches from Haridwar to Rishikesh and Dehradun.
The frequency of the Congress’ highly publicised pada yatra programmes has increased in the last few days. Earlier this month, Rawat’s daughter Anupama inaugurated the yatra in Haridwar. Later, the CM and the state Congress president Yashpal Arya joined the yatras. Afterwards, the yatras have been held in those parts of Dehradun that is part of the Haridwar LS constituency.
Again on Monday afternoon, the CM and his close aid, cabinet minister Dinesh Agarwal, visited a Muslim-dominated area in Dehradun and interacted with the voters.
The recent entry of former Samajwadi Party MLA Ambarish Kumar into the Congress is in fact a shot in the arm for the ruling party. Ambarish enjoys support of a sizeable number of baniya voters in Haridwar.
Moreover, the party has also inducted Gaurav, the son of former BSP MLA Yashbeer Singh, into the party. Gaurav has been appointed the vice-president of the newly-created Civil Aviation Corporation. His father Yashbeer Singh is a prominent Jat leader from Haridwar.
“Every party has its own strategy. We intend to win not just the Haridwar seat, but all other seats as well,” said Surender Kumar, a Congress spokesperson. In fact the dynastic politics is not something that is new in Uttarakhand.