Kishore Upadhyaya has been appointed as the new president of Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee.
The announcement was made by senior party leader Janardhan Dwivedi in New Delhi on Wednesday night, PCC spokesman Dhirendra Pratap said on Thursday. Upadhyaya takes over from Yashpal Arya who resigned in November last year but had been asked by the party high command to continue in the post till a replacement is found.
After Congress’ rout in the Lok Sabha polls in which it lost all five seats to the BJP in Uttarakhand, it was almost certain that the central leadership will soon hand over the responsibility of running the party in the hill state to someone else. Upadhyaya’s appointment to the post is being seen in political circles here as Congress high command’s attempt to strike a balance in regional and caste equations in the state.
Upadhyaya is a Brahmin leader from Garhwal whereas chief minister Harish Rawat is a Kshatriya leader from Kumaon. A former MLA and minister, Upadhyaya’s appointment to the post is being attributed by political observers here to his proximity to chief minister Harish Rawat. As he is a Rawat loyalist Upadhyaya’s appointment has jolted former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna faction which had pinned its hopes on Narendra Nagar MLA Subodh Uniyal for the post.
Sources said Uniyal was unhappy with the development and complained to Yashpal Arya on Thursday morning who expressed his helplessness over the issue. After the exit of Satpal Maharaj, the Congress party has only two factions, one led by chief minister Harish Rawat and the other by his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna.
The Bahuguna camp hoped to bag the PCC chief’s post especially after their leader had to make way for Harish Rawat on February 1 this year. The Bahuguna camp had been pressurising Rawat to support Uniyal’s candidature. Rawat did not turn down his opponents’ demand but he was not comfortable with the idea and managed to convince the high command that Upadhyaya was suitable for the post.
All Congress MLAs barring Uniyal have been accommodated in the government in one form or the other. This was done mainly to prevent any future dissent in the government. While MLAs belonging to the Bahuguna camp are happy with their appointment, those who were close to Satpal Maharaj are now trying to come closer to Harish Rawat.
Upadhyaya told HT said that he will speak to his opponents in the organisation personally and seek their views on strengthening the party. “We have to re-establish the connection with the people and it can be done only with the support of all senior party leaders. I will soon call upon Subodh Uniyal, Heera Singh Bisht, Surbir Singh Shajwan and other party leaders to discuss the strategy of the party to take on the BJP,” he said.