Former parliamentarian and Congress’ Dalit face in Uttarakhand Pradeep Tamta on Tuesday filed his nomination papers for the lone Rajya Sabha seat, for which elections are to be held on June 11.
Tamta, a known loyalist of chief minister Harish Rawat, will be the joint candidate of the six-member Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) backed ruling Congress. In fact, by getting Tamta’s candidature finalised for the Upper house of Parliament Rawat managed to kill several birds with one stone.
According to political observers, the move is likely to help him consolidate the Dalit vote ahead of the 2017 assembly elections. It has also helped the chief minister keep the PDF away from the race for the lone Rajya Sabha seat, they say.
Earlier on Saturday, the PDF had declared cabinet minister Dinesh Dhanai as its separate candidate threatening to break the ruling alliance led by Rawat as they were allegedly not consulted by Rawat on the issue despite being the Congress allies. Even cabinet minister Yashpal Arya, who is another prominent Dalit face of the Congress, too wasn’t happy with Rawat’s choice and even threatened to join the BJP, Congress insiders said. Rawat, however, smartly resolved the crisis by making them agree to Tamta’s candidature. He also managed to get state Congress president Kishore Upadhyay sidelined, who had earlier been the frontrunner for the Rajya Sabha seat.
“We all are united...All our leaders from both from our party (Congress) and the PDF were present at the time of filing of nomination papers,” Rawat told HT. He admitted that not taking the PDF into confidence before declaring Tamta as a candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat would have been his “strategic blunder.”
The chief minister, however, dubbed the BJPs move to field two independent candidates for the Upper house of Parliament unjustified. “They don’t have sufficient numbers to win the Rajya Sabha seat...So, they should have stayed away from the Rajya Sabha elections as we did in 2007 when the numbers were not in our favour,” he told Hindustan Times.