A section of Congress in Uttarakhand is unhappy over the party’s likely move to continue ties with Progressive Democratic Front (PDF)—an alliance of independents and smaller parties who stood behind Chief Minister Harish Rawat during a political crisis earlier this year.
AICC general secretary and Congress in-charge of the state Ambika Soni, who was in Dehradun earlier this week to discuss coordination and orgnisational issues with Rawat and party’s state president Kishore Upadhyay, has hinted that the party may “continue” ties with PDF.
However, a section in the ruling party is pressing to sever ties with the front, particularly with the three independents who enjoy cabinet berths.
PDF has six members—three independents, two BSP members and an Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) MLA.
The three independents—Dinesh Dhanai from Tehri, MP Naithani from Devprayag and Harish Durgapal from Lalkuan won the 2012 polls as Congress rebels.
Dhanai, who is tourism minister, had defeated the Congress state president in 2012, and has repeatedly been at loggerheads with the Congress organisation, following which state party leaders have advocated a break-up with the PDF.
However, the CM has differed on this matter. Along with the BSP and the UKD, the independents had extended support to Congress under the PDF banner and saved the Rawat government which was on the brink of collapse due to an internal rebellion led by Congress’s Vijay Bahuguna and eight other MLAs who joined BJP.
Now, Soni has also softened her stand towards PDF. She had also met PDF members who shared “concerns” with her.
Dhanai, who called on Soni, said he was satisfied with the meeting.
“We shared our concerns with Ambikaji. We will take our call (whether to tie up with Congress) when the right time comes” he told HT on Friday.
Congress leaders wonder what will happen to its cadre in constituencies represented by PDF members.
Besides independents, UKD MLA and minister Preetam Panwar has said on record that he will contest as an independent from Dhanaulti, which a senior Congress leader is also eyeing.
BSP, however, has made its position clear that it will go it alone in the polls.
Girish Chandra Punera, coordinator of the Congress organisation programs, however, said that Soni’s indication was “not conclusive” and that a final decision in this regard would only be taken by the central leadership.
He, however, admitted that the party wants a “decision which does not affect the morale of its workers in a bid to pacify outsiders”.
Opposition BJP, meanwhile, taunted Congress, saying it had failed to put its own house in order.
“Despite their differences going on for months now, the Congress has failed to resolve the crisis with their ‘friends’. How can such a party give stability to the state’s development?” BJP state spokesperson Vinay Goyal asked.