Another rebellion seems to be brewing against chief minister Harish Rawat within the Congress, with several leaders from the Garhwal region accusing him of ignoring them for positions in the government as well as the party.
A section of Congress leaders, who are already upset with Rawat’s “autocratic style of functioning”, has warned that they would soon discuss the issue with the party cadres before taking it up with the high command.
Rawat hails from Almora, considered the cultural heart of the Kumaon region.
“We will soon be touring Garhwal where we will discuss with all our senior and committed leaders and workers the issue of Rawat ignoring them for positions both in his government and the party,” said Survir Singh Sajwan, a Rajput leader hailing from Garhwal.
“A comprehensive report based on the proposed meetings will be submitted to our party president, Sonia Gandhi, within a month or so,” the three-time legislator and former state Congress vice president told HT on Thursday.
Sajwan said the party would pay a heavy price for Rawat meting out a step-motherly treatment to its Garhwali leaders, in the 2017 assembly polls. “What is the use? Hardly any time is left for the assembly polls,” he said, when asked if the problem would be resolved if Rawat fills two vacant cabinet berths with the party’s Garhwal MLAs.
In a shot in the arm for the rebel leaders, they also have the support of the state Congress president, Kishore Upadhyay, who is from Garhwal.
Upadhyay, a known Rawat loyalist, is said to be unhappy with the chief minister for “picking” former parliamentarian Pradeep Tamta, a Dalit leader from Kumaon, for the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the state. The biennial elections for the Rajya Sabha will be held on June 11.
“If they (Congress leaders from Garhwal) seek my support in conveying our cadres’ sentiments to Soniaji, I will certainly extend my support to them,” said Upadhyay. “Power has been completely centralised,” he said, without naming Rawat.
Upadhyay said, “All those who stood by him (Rawat) for two months and brought the government out of crisis are now being ignored.”
Sajwan accused Rawat of ignoring the “veteran and committed Congress leaders” from Garhwal despite the region having the majority of the total 70 assembly constituencies in the mountain state.
Surendra Kumar, the CM’s media in-charge, however, sought to make light of the whole issue. “Our party is functioning as a unit…Whatever little problems have cropped up will soon be resolved,” he told HT.