Though only a few weeks remain before the Lok Sabha elections on May 7, the state Congress continues to remain headless in all its political decisions, thanks to the factionalism dogging the ruling party. Consequently, even the party high command appears wary of taking a call on a new party head, which has left its cadres “demoralised” ahead of polls.
Cabinet minister and Dalit leader Yashpal Arya is currently officiating as the PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) president. He had been holding the post full-time till December last year, when the high command sought his resignation. Soon after, Arya was asked to rejoin as the officiating president.
“Our party being headed by an officiating president, that too for the past three months, is a serious issue. Consequently, our organisational wing is in complete disarray,” said Hira Singh Bisht, a former minister and a member of the All-India Congress Committee. “Sadly, the confusion also reflects in our poll preparations which are yet to take off, though there is hardly any time left for polls,” he added.
On the other hand, the poll preparations of the Congress’ main rival, the BJP, had begun several months ago. “They are now just campaigning… I am told that all the five BJP candidates have even completed canvassing in half of their respective parliamentary constituencies,” Bisht said.
According to him, the Congress stood the chance of winning at least three of the five LS seats in the state had the party begun preparations earlier. “We stood the chance of winning three seats - Haridwar, Nainital and Tehri - because these constituencies comprise a sizeable number of the minority communities,” the former minister said.
Shurvir Singh Sajwan, a senior Congress leader and an AICC member, admitted that the Congress workers were demoralised by the fact that the party is being headed by an officiating president. “Our cadres would be upbeat had there been clear directions regarding poll preparations. That would be possible had our party been headed by a full-fledged president,” he said.
Arya was asked to resign as the PCC president because he didn’t fit in the party’s criterion of ‘one man, one post’, Sajwan said.
However, if party insiders are to be believed, Arya was asked to officiate as the PCC president at the instance of former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, who was then heading the state government. “Bahuguna wanted Arya to continue as the party head because of the latter’s pliant nature and his being Congress’ Dalit face,” a source said.